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Modern Riding 



THE story of educated riding from the time when 
knighthood was in flower until today when jump- 
ing is the most popular equine sport. The customs and 
manners of each period have had a direct and definite 
influence on ^horsemanship. Here we follow riding in 
Italy, France, Germany, Russia, England and the 
United States, and see how the court, the cavalry and 
the sportsman have affected the progress of horseman- 
e state of modern 'riding in different countries 
is discussed and evaluated by one of the outstanding 
horsemen in the world. 

WHEN a new book by Capt. Lit- 
tauer appears it immediately cap- 
tures the attention of the riding world 

-and deservedly so. 

This book is an unusually important 
contribution to equestrian literature, as 
it presents an organized review of edu- 
cated riding since its inception some four 
hundred years ago. But, more to the 
point, it shows how horsemanship has 
slowly but surely developed through the 
centuries into its present forms. 

Dressage, even in its Renaissance be- 
ginning, comprised complicated and arti- 
ficial movements which required special 
techniques in teaching. As they became 
more refined, techniques were assembled 
into methods, and theory grew up to 
support these methods. 

When Forward Riding was developed, 
theory came before practice. Caprilli, its 
originator, conceived his idea of why a 
field horse or jumper should be ridden 
in a certain manner before a method was 
perfected. This could only happen be- 
cause a habit of theorizing about riding 
had long been established by his time. 

Today some people approach riding 
with a nodding acquaintance with method 
or theory, or both, and do so on the 
premise that any type of horse is sure to 
benefit from any kind of education-the 
more the better-regardless of the almost 
mutually exclusive principles on which 
Dressage and Forward Riding are based. 
This is a little like trying to teach one a 
language by making him learn French 
nouns and Germua verbs. 

( Con l inn ^d on back flap) 


00381 5511 

796 LTfr 


Her s eiuan f 3 pr ogr e s s 


\ '" _ ftr* * 

" \ "^ 


TEN TALKS ON HORSEMANSHIP (in collaboration with 
Captain S. Kournakoff) 


with Captain S. Kournakoff) 


Courtesy of Frick Collection 
New York City 


At a time when Western aristocracy was playing the elaborate game of 
Dressage, the distance-covering horsemen of Eastern Europe continued to 
go their traditional, relaxed and practical way, using a position which fore- 
shadowed the Modern Forward Seat. 


The Development o Modern Riding 




Princeton, New Jersey 

Toronto London 

New York 




Published simultaneously in Canada by 

All Rights Reserved 

This book, or any part thereof, may not be 
reproduced in any form without written per- 
mission from the author and the publisher. 


120 Alexander St., Princeton, New Jersey (Principal Office) 

24 West 40th Street, New York 18, New York 

358, Kensington High Street, London, W.14, England 

25 Hollinger Road, Toronto 16, Canada 


To the Horse 
Who Took the Rap 




Although my name appears as author on the title page of 
this book, I have my doubts whether I have a full claim to this. 
In order to "render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's" 
it is perhaps fair to tell how this book was really written. 

After the first tentative draft of a chapter had been read 
aloud to my wife, its substance discussed and often argued, 
altered, augmented or reduced, she would attempt to turn 
the second re-typed version into some sort of respectable Eng- 
lish. In this state it would be passed on to my old pupil and 
friend, Mrs. Clarence Postley, only to be promptly returned, 
almost invisible beneath the red pencilling. To my no small 
satisfaction I found that people could disagree about the 
proper use of their mother tongue. When Mrs. Postley's cor- 
rections and suggestions had been incorporated or (occasionally) 
discarded, the newest version of the chapter would be mailed 
for similar treatment to New Mexico, to my old friends Mr. 
and Mrs. David H. Munroe. Since they are most knowledgeable 
in matters of history, equitation and languages, their comments 
and criticisms were invaluable. 

A copy of this supposedly finished cooperative effort would 
finally reach my publishers' sporting book editor, Eugene V. 
Connett, who, in the past, edited four of my books, two of 
which he published when he had the Derrydale Press. His 
red pencil still found constructive work to do. 


I am profoundly grateful to all these people who gave their 
time and effort so generously, and I particularly appreciate the 
fact that we are all still friends. I would also like to thank the 
many others, too numerous to list, who had to sit and listen to 
different versions of various chapters, and whose verbal com- 
ments were often helpful. 

I am also indebted to Mrs. Postley for the translation of 
Federico Caprilli's writings from the Italian, and to my wife 
for helping me with many translations from the French. 

My thanks go as well to Mr. Stephen V. Grancsay of the 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, who very kindly discussed 
the medieval material with me and furnished pertinent 

Syosset, N. Y. 
December, 1961 






















INDEX 313 

List of Illustrations 

The Polish Rider, by Rembrandt Frontispiece 


Cover o the program of a London Horse Show in 1876 7 

Medieval animal trainers' horses 27 

Medieval animal trainers' horses 27 

18th century "airs above the ground" 29 

A 17th-century fancy-dress hunt v 30 

The hunting lodge of the Duke of Savoy 3 1 

Showing horses in hand in the 18th century 35 

Work in double pillars 42 

Courbettes on a circle 44 

Work around a single pillar 45 

The Duke of Newcastle executing a ballotade 48 

Apotheosis of the Duke of Newcastle 51 

Mid- 16th-century German armor 53 

Jousting armor 54 

15th-century spurs 55 

A bit by Pignatelli 56 

A severe 17th-century bit 56 

Horses caparisoned for jousting in the 17th century 59 

Jousting in Paris in the 17th century 62 

Louis XIII riding at the Quintain 64 

Horses pulling baroque sleighs 66 

Horses caparisoned for the carrousel's parade 69 

The horse ballet of a carrousel 70 

Schooling in the 16th century 78 

Schooling in the 16th century 78 

Some Dressage movements of the 18th century 83 

An aristocratic rider in the 18th century 87 

English fox hunters of the 18th century 90 

An 18th-century study of the horse's anatomy 102 

Astley's circus in 1810 104 

Baucher on Capitaine making an abrupt halt 112 

Baucher on Capitaine making a Pesade 112 

Flexions in hand 1 19 

A 19th-century hussar's uniform 128 
Executives and instructors of the Officers Cavalry School, 

St. Petersburg, 1906 129 

Entry of the allied armies into Paris, 1814 133 

British uniforms of 1856 134 

A gentleman's stable in 1820 135 

Early instantaneous photographs of the horse jumping 137 

Early instantaneous photographs of the horse galloping 139 

A Victorian riding school 141 

A geometrical approach to the horse's conformation 143 

Instantaneous photography by Muy bridge 145 

A 19th-century attempt at analyzing the horse's locomotion 146 
Changing fashions in English fox hunters * 154 

Cantering on three legs 160 

The "gallop to the rearward" 162 

Fillis' "ordinary trot" 164 
The Russian army regulation seat at the end of the 19th century 165 

High School in the 19th century 169 

Work in hand under Fillis 171 

A Russian cossack at the end of the 19th century 176 
A Russian mounted policeman at the end of the 19th century 176 

Tartars racing, 1800 177 

Caprilli jumping 186 

Italian cavalryman jumping before 1906 186 
A later Italian officer exhibiting the perfected Forward Seat 187 
The successive phases of the jump as revealed by the 

motion picture camera 208 
Transition from a trot to a canter as revealed by the 

motion picture camera 213 

Children grooming horses 218 

Modern junior jumping 220 
Party at Boots & Saddles Riding School in honor of 

international jumping teams 227 

The Forward Seat on postage stamps 231 

"Travail a la Longe" 238 

Colonel Chamberlin at a posting trot 248 

Colonel Chamberlin at a gallop, sitting in the saddle 248 

Colonel Chamberlin at a gallop, riding in stirrups 249 

Junior riding in Madison Square Garden 271 
The Forward Seat in the United States in the middle thirties 291 

"Le Congres du Cheval de Sport" 301 




Jumping is a New Game 

Something new and important has happened in the riding 
world in the course of our century that is, the sudden rise 
of interest in competitive jumping. This new sport, which first 
started in a small way less than one hundred years ago, is fast 
becoming the most popular game of the time. 

Why? Why didn't it attract people earlier? Why didn't horse- 
men of two hundred years ago think' of it? What are the 
reasons for its overwhelming success today? Why are present 
methods of schooling and riding jumpers so different from 
those practiced sixty years ago? 

For years these and similar questions have made me curious. 
Although from time to time I have guessed at the answers, I 
always realized that only equestrian history could fully explain 
our present attitudes. 

It is obvious that the history of riding is merely a small 
segment of larger human history; the former has thus naturally 
reflected the trends of the latter. The aims which riding pur- 
sues today, and the forms it has consequently taken, result 
from a combination of social evolution and revolution. But 
revolution itself is inevitably shaped by that against which it 

So for some time I have been trying to trace the history of 
educated (reasoned) riding in the Western world, particularly 


the development of equestrian thought. This book is the result. 
I have written it mainly to help today's horseman find the 
place of riding in today's world, and his place in today's riding. 
If it seems sometimes written with a personal slant, this is 
because evaluations of circumstances are almost always personal, 
and yet without them it is difficult to stimulate that thought 
which, whether it agrees or violently disagrees, is the basis of 
an intelligent approach to any subject. The bulk of the book 
will consist of an historical sketch; later on I shall discuss the 
present, with all its varying tendencies, and the gradual ascend- 
ency of the new type of riding, in the development of which I 
have actively participated. 

I became a professional riding teacher in the fall of 1927, 
and am still teaching. One might be expected to have become 
bored saying the same things over and over again for thirty- 
five years, and I imagine that if one were merely to repeat the 
same old formula day in and day out at every lesson, it would 
be rather tiresome. But there has been no necessity for this in a 
century that has offered so many opportunities for original and 
creative work. The latter, in the case of many professionals, 
has more than compensated for the hours monopolized by such 
routine remarks as "heels down," or "look straight ahead." 

Unquestionably there have been stagnant periods in the his- 
tory of riding, corresponding to placid epochs of human life, 
but the century in which we live has not been one of them. Life 
has changed drastically all over the world in the course of the 
last fifty years. Since the first World War people have developed 
new interests and new ambitions, in the saddle as well as out 
of it. At the same time that riding began to take a new road, 
the proportion of people of moderate means indulging in the 
sport was greatly increased, while the number of big private 
stables diminished; the competitive spirit, so typical of our 
century, started to play a big role in amateur equestrian games; 
the improvement of horseflesh provided even the average horse- 


man with a better mount; and no one had as much time as 
before to spend on actual riding. These and many other factors, 
taken together, necessitated a revaluation of old principles in 
riding and schooling horses, as well as in methods of teaching. 

After all, a realistic point of view focussed on practical 
results, rather than devotion to the doctrines of the past, is 
what advances skills or sports and adjusts them to contemporary 
conditions. Anyone with the imagination of a horseman, with 
sympathy for the horse, who has been in touch with con- 
temporary life, and who has been able to think independently, 
has had the opportunity in our century of leading a very inter- 
esting equestrian life. 

I imagine that many young riders of today don't even realize 
that the origin of their favorite type of riding, competitive 
jumping in any of its various forms, is rather recent, and that 
jumping fences, even in the hunting field, does not go back 
to a very remote past. Today in many countries fields still are 
not enclosed. Fashionable stag hunting in France is still tradi- 
tionally practiced (at least in many cases) along the well-kept 
avenues of great forests, and in England, the homeland of fox- 
hunting, the fields were not enclosed to any great degree by 
hedges or fences before the 18th century. To be more precise, 
the slow process of enclosure began at the time of Queen 
Elizabeth and was completed only around the year 1850 in 
Queen Victoria's reign. 

"Before the days of enclosures, it is probable that no hunt- 
ing man was ever called upon to ride over any obstacle more 
formidable than a ditch or narrow stream; there were no 
hedges, no stake-and-binders, and post-and-rail were a pleasure 
or downfall, as the case might be which awaited later 
generations; so that jumping, as we know it now, did not come 
into the argument with regard to hunting." (STEEPLECHASING, 
by John Hislop, E. P. Button & Co. Inc., New York.) 

The first recorded example of competitive jumping and it 


was in the form of a steeplechase took place in Ireland in 
1752; it was a match between two gentlemen. "In due course 
matches developed into races with three or more runners, the 
earliest of this description being held in 1792 ... It was only 
by the middle of the 19th century that steeplechasing had 
become firmly established/' (J. Hislop) The first Grand 
National was run at Aintree in 1839. And yet steeplechasing 
(always a sport of the few) preceded arena jumping by many 
years. As a matter of fact, I can find no reference to the latter 
(that is, in a form familiar to us today) before the last quarter 
of the 19th century. 

The earliest document I have come across relating to arena 
jumping is a program of a London horse show in 1876; the 
cover of this "catalogue" is among the illustrations for this 
book. It was a big five-day show, in which over four hundred 
horses participated, in hunter (on the flat), pony, cob and 
other divisions. Horses entered in the show had the right to 
take part without additional fee in a "competition for leaping 
horses." There were four leaping classes for horses of different 
sizes, with a total of about seventy entries. The catalogue 
stated that every day after the conclusion of the afternoon 
program "the hurdles will be put up, that the competitors for 
the Leaping Prizes may practice." 

The rules for the "leaping competition" clearly indicate that 
it was still in the cradle. Here are some: 

"The fences will be such as the Judges select. 

"Every rider may, if he pleases, take two turns round the 
ring to warm up his horse before commencing the competition. 

"In case of a horse going through, or breaking down a fence 
the fence shall be made up again, and (if Judges think fit) one 
more trial shall be allowed. . . ." 

All eight judges of these competitions were M's.F.H. Many 
of the riders were grooms, for the catalogue states that "The 




or irt 





This was then a rich man's sport. Entry fees in hunter classes were 
2/2/-, while the price of a "superior hunting saddle," advertised in the 
catalogue, was 5/5/-. The first prize (cash) was 60/-/-- 

A social slant on the period is given by the stipulation in the program 
that "from 1 to 2 o'clock horses fed and grooms dine." 


Manager will reward grooms who ride well, whether they win 
or not. A Gentleman in the same circumstances will have the 
offer of a Whip or pair of Spurs for superior horsemanship." 

In the previous year (1875) officers of the Cavalry School 
of Saumur were demonstrating High School at a show at 
Nantes, France. A few of them also jumped obstacles, riding 
without stirrups a High School rider's, rather than a hunting 
man's, practice. 

Unquestionably there must have been other isolated com- 
petitions in jumping even a few years earlier, but in any case 
this sport was developing very slowly and was of no great im- 
portance even in the nineties of the century. 

James Fillis, in his book, PRINCIPES DE DRESSAGE ET D'QUITA- 
TION, first published in 1890, in his Conclusion says: "To be 
an accomplished rider, or at least to approach as close to 
perfection as possible, one should be able to pass the five 
following tests: 

1. To ride a bad actor; 

2. To ride a steeplechase; 

3. To 'ride a trotting match; 

4. To ride a flat race; 

5. To know how to school and ride a school [High School] 

As you see, horse-show jumping is not mentioned. Later I 
shall tell you at length how ridiculously and briefly jumping 
was usually treated in books of the 19th century, while a few 
paragraphs normally sufficed for it in earlier works. 

But once established, horse-show jumping progressed swiftly, 
and the first international competition in riding over obstacles 
took place in London in 1907. The last comer to the field of 
today's competitive jumping was the "Three-Day Event/' 


which had its start as an all-around test for an officer's charger, 
and was held as a military event in the first equestrian Olympic 
Games in 1912. l 

For many present day young riders, both in England and 
on the continent, and in many parts of the United States, riding 
devoid of jumping has little attraction. But this was not the 
case with our great-grandfathers and their predecessors, for 
most of them enjoyed horses without riding over obstacles 
(except possibly when foxhunting). This was true since the 
horse was first backed. And after the middle of the 16th 
century when riding on the flat was first given a scholastic 
background, the possibility of obtaining from the horse a 
variety of intricate movements at slow collected gaits seems to 
have fascinated especially continental horsemen much more 
than fast but uneducated riding to hounds. 

In 1550 there appeared in Italy a book written by a Neapoli- 
tan gentleman named Federico Grisone; this may be considered 
as the work on equitation that officially inaugurated a new 
educated type of riding and established a pattern for the next 
three hundred and fifty years. As a matter of fact, this form of 
riding, which today we call Dressage, is to some extent still 
with us. 

Here and now is probably the place to clarify the use and 
meaning of the word dressage. This is a French word, and in its 
native tongue it originally meant simply schooling. But since 
during several centuries the only horses that were really 
schooled were those being prepared for manege riding,, and 
since for so long the chief source and inspiration of this type 
of riding was France, the word came to be generally and often 
far from accurately adopted to signify manege riding, includ- 
ing the modern program of High School. I shall use the term 
in this modern interpretation. But today Dressage is no longer, 
as it was until around 1900, the only educated type of riding 


in existence; good modern Forward Riding is educated too. 

The modern method for cross-country riding and jumping 
originated in Italy. Although clumsy and isolated attempts to 
base cross-country riding on other principles than those of 
Dressage can be traced back one hundred and fifty years, these 
ideas were presented in a well-rounded, logical form for the 
first time only at the turn of this century. This new type of 
riding, based on the proposition that "there is little in common 
between ring riding and cross-country riding" was initiated by 
an Italian cavalry officer, Captain Federico Caprilli, around the 
year 1900. Today we call it "the Italian Method," "the Natural 
Method/' or "Forward Riding." 

This method appeared on the threshold of a century which 
was to be oriented toward speed, sport and efficiency. Had it 
been devised earlier it might well have died still-born. As it 
was, it took a good score of years before its significance was 
generally recognized. Then it brought with it many innova- 
tions in methods both of riding and of schooling horses. 

We live today at a time of development of the principles 
proposed by Caprilli and of adjustment of them to the new 
forms that equestrian sport has taken. On the other hand, 
Dressage goes on, practiced by a few for its own sake and 
adapted by some as a preparation for cross-country riding and 
jumping. The attempts to combine it with fast riding across 
uneven terrain and over obstacles have led to much controversy. 
There had been arguments, some of them leading to duels, 
even at a time when fundamentally only one school of thought 
existed. As a matter of fact, the manege riding of former days 
developed and grew to be an art as the result of innovations 
and hence arguments. Today when we have side by side two 
equally educated, although in aims and techniques drastically 
different forms of riding, variances of opinion are bound to be 
yet more prevalent. 


But in addition to the argument between these two schools 
o thought there is still much work to be done within Forward 
Riding itself. It has developed tremendously during the last 
quarter century, and yet many details of its present state surely 
can be further improved. 

Through my formal equestrian education and through the 
manner in which I was officially required to ride in the 
Russian army in my youth, I was once upon a time a dressage 
rider. Later on, when faced with teaching civilians in this 
country, I began to think more seriously about the possibilities 
opened up by Caprilli, and I found that they would require 
practical adaptation for conditions rather different from those 
obtaining in the Italian cavalry at the beginning of the 
century. Not only were civilian amateurs, old, young, plump, 
slender, timid or foolhardy, weak or strong, indifferent or 
"mad about riding/' with a variety of aims, very different 
pupils from the members of an officers' corps, but much of 
Caprilli's writing even for the latter had been no more than 
mere outlines. It became imperative to fill in these outlines 
and to adapt them to the schooling of horses in modern civilian 
life and the teaching of modern amateur riders. Many of us 
have worked toward it. The past twenty-five years have wit- 
nessed the blossoming of a totally new form of educated riding. 
This is the first time in three hundred-and-fifty years that 
anything comparable has happened in the field of equitation; 
the opportunities for imaginative work have been exceptional, 
as have been the corresponding satisfactions. It is hard to see 
how any horseman could have been bored working in such 
dynamic times. 


In Retrospect 

What proportion of the alterations in social conditions over 
the centuries is brought about by popular reaction against 
tradition or privilege, by the imposition of the will of a single 
powerful individual, as the result of wars, plagues or famines, 
of new ideas and inventions, or discoveries of new gold mines 
or new continents, is for the historian to decide. 

Whatever has caused changes through the ages in the social 
order, the mode of riding has always changed with them. The 
past shows that altered circumstances of life alter human points 
of view, interests, behavior and ideals. This is true not only 
of what we do but of how we do it. People in different periods 
have spoken, danced, sung, dressed, fought, eaten and even 
greeted each other differently. Riding as a part of life has 
never been practiced in a vacuum; it has been as subject 
to changing modes of living as anything else. But this is a fact 
of which some of us need to be reminded. 

Throughout the three thousand odd years of its history in 
different parts of the world, riding has pursued different aims 
and assumed different forms. For instance, riding today in 
Mongolia has little in common with that in an American 
hunter show. Riding will also vary in varying parts of the same 
country, at the same time. For example, not so long ago riding 
in the United States was rather sharply divided along geographi- 


cal lines into Eastern, Western and Southern types, each with 
its intrinsic style. The type of riding in any one locality also 
changes with the times. Look at the photographs of American 
foxhunters jumping in the early days of this century, and then 
at those of our young people jumping in today's shows. What 
a striking difference there is between both the form of the 
riders and the manner in which the horses jump. Obviously the 
method of riding over obstacles has changed. 

While the picture of riding in the past is usually presented 
in a simplified form which gives an aspect of uniformity to the 
period, it is well to remember that riding was never more 
homogeneous than any other human activity. Far from it 
at least in civilized communities and in recent centuries. Along 
with the major sport of the moment there have usually existed 
other minor games. So today in this country, besides the thou- 
sands whose sport is jumping, there are the comparatively 
few who play polo, the many who fancy gaited horses, and those 
who may ride Western even in New York state. It is possible 
that in the future, if today's tendency to standardize all forms 
of human activities continues, the time will come when the 
world's taste will agree not merely on Coca Cola but on riding 
as well. If this should happen, my guess is that the first form 
it will take will be jumping. 

Whenever in this and the following chapters I state that 
the popular riding of today is jumping, or that in the 18th 
century it was Dressage, this will merely signify that each 
of these attracted in its time many more serious horsemen 
and stimulated more interest than any other form of riding, 
to the point where many efforts were made to improve that 
particular type of equitation. Thus in our century many more 
original books, representing research on the subject, have 
been written about jumping than about any other equestrian 
game. This search for better methods, rather than the number 


of people involved in a type of riding, is what makes history 
as far as educated horsemanship goes. Dressage in its time 
had as many innovations as the art of jumping has today. 

There is nothing black or white in the history of riding. 
Every period since the Renaissance, when man for the first 
time since antiquity began to theorize on practical things, has 
had its own original ideas, its opposition to them, as well as 
points of view outside the main stream of thought. Thus, in 
the century that could be called the Dressage Century, there 
existed, side by side with an enlightened attitude toward the 
newest in manege riding, a traditionalism that clung stub- 
bornly to the good old ways, as well as the completely pragmatic 
and quite uninterested approach of those people who simply 
rode to get places. Although the latter were certainly in the 
vast majority, it is to be noted that not then, nor at any other 
period, were they the ones to write the history of educated 
equitation. Improved techniques of equitation have come about 
almost always as the result of original thinking on the part of 
a few people in the field. 

Although, as far as we can tell, people may have been 
writing about horses for three thousand years before the 16th 
century, when the dressage type of equitation first made its 
appearance, we have no trace of anyone having previously 
formulated a complete, reasoned method of riding. 

Indeed, the earliest extant work on horses seems to have 
been written some 500 years before the ridden horse began to 
take over seriously from the driven horse. It was composed in 
the 15th century B.C. by one Kikkulis, a Mitannian in the 
service of the Hittites, then overlords of eastern Asia Minor. 
It does a very exhaustive job of a day by day schedule for 
conditioning chariot horses over a period of several months. 

Some thousand years later (at the beginning of the 4th cen- 
tury B.C.) a Greek, Xenophon, wrote a booklet for a cavalry 


officer on the selection, management and riding of horses. Less 
than twenty pages (out of a total of fifty) printed in large type 
and with extra-large margins (in my English edition of 1802) 
are devoted to riding proper not sufficient to describe the 
seat alone in modern books. 

The briefness of Xenophon's writing and the primitiveness 
of his techniques preclude the text being considered an impor- 
tant work on horsemanship. But many of his suggestions are 
immortal simply because they are based on an understanding 
of the horse's psychology, which has probably changed little 
since his days. His quite elementary advice is given with such 
engaging common sense that it is easy to forget that it all 
pertains to riding on a blanket, the saddle not yet having been 
invented. But even so, this can be considered as the first 
attempt to reason about riding that has come down to us. 

Were I to write on the history of riding in general, and not 
merely on its educated manifestation, I would find Xenophon 
invaluable, for he throws much interesting light on equestrian 
life and habits of the time. For example: 

"The groom ought to know too, that a muzzle should be put 
on the horse, both when he takes him out to be dressed, or to 
stretch his legs; and indeed he should at all times when taken 
out without a bridle, have a muzzle. . . . 

"But when a horse is to be led, we do not approve his 
being led from behind. . . . [This was an inheritance from the 
days when the horse was primarily driven, not ridden.] 

". . . it is proper that the stable should be in such a part of 
the dwelling, where the master can see the horse oftenest . . . 

". . . the manger should be constructed so that it would 
be no more possible to steal the horse's food out of the 
manger . . . 

". . . one advanced in years should occupy himself with his 
family, his friends, and with state or military affairs, rather 


than with the breaking of colts . . . and whoever knows as much 
as I do about the breaking of colts, will unquestionably send 
his colt out to be broke." 

Besides the fact that many riding enthusiasts are unaware 
of the real components of educated riding, there are probably 
two reasons why this conspicuously incomplete book has fre- 
quently been hailed as one that established the basis for 
equitation in the centuries to follow. The first is the circum- 
stance that it did mention collection! The second is that many 
people, unfamiliar with what the Greece of Xenophon's time 
had achieved in other fields, are impressed by the fact that 
someone wrote about riding as far back as twenty-three hun- 
dred years ago. 

As you will read in my later chapters, it is during the past 
fifty years only (out of the four centuries of its actual existence) 
that educated riding has taken a form not based on collection. 
To our great-grandfathers, paragraphs such as those I am about 
to quote meant that their principles were already established 
by Xenophon: 

". . . . when he [the horse] goes towards other horses, espe- 
cially if they are mares, then he raises his neck, bends his 
head with quickness, lifts his legs high, and throws up his tail. 

". . . when therefore any one can prevail on him to do these 
things which he has done of his own accord, when he wishes 
to appear beautiful; he will then exhibit his horse pleased 
with being rode, and having a magnificent, stately and beauti- 
ful appearance." 

Those who practiced High School, and particularly the airs 
above the ground movements during which two front or two 
hind legs, or even all four are off the ground were unques- 
tionably pleased to find such a venerable ancestor. This is 
what Xenophon says about teaching the horse to rear: 

"... a horse who raises himself well, is a sight so beautiful, 


so astonishing, and so delightful to behold; that it attracts 
the eyes of all those who see him, both young and old. And 
no one leaves him, or ceases looking at him, so long as he 
displays himself in his splendor. 

"But if the person who happens to be possessed of such 
a horse is an officer, he ought not to be satisfied with enjoying 
this distinction alone, but should rather endeavor to make the 
whole of the cavalry under his command, like-wise, worthy of 
being beheld." 

When I first read Xenophon the question of why he wrote so 
little on the subject immediately arose in my mind. After all, 
the Greeks of those days, besides establishing the fundamental 
orders of architecture and producing enough pottery to adorn 
all the museums of the world, left us a formidable library of 
works of history, travel, philosophy, drama and poetry. Among 
those many volumes which have survived to modern times, 
but which represent merely a fraction of the original produc- 
tion, we can count only one book on riding; that there was 
another earlier book written by one Simon we know from 
Xenophon's reference to it. (A small fragment remains.) Why 
so much on so many subjects, and so little on riding? 

As a matter of fact, Xenophon himself wrote several longer 
books and many pamphlets, among the latter being the text 
on horses. His most popular work today is the ANABASIS an 
account of a retreat of ten thousand Greek soldiers from an 
unsuccessful campaign in Persia; it is 300 pages long in the 
paper-back edition. His longer books deal with history, philoso- 
phy, economics, politics, etc. So again the question poses itself 
why so much on other subjects and so little on riding? 

It is, of course, little wonder that natives of a country where 
the belief was prevalent that a man spent more than six hours 
daily on practical things only to the detriment of his mind and 
spirit, should produce more works of philosophy or history 


or poetry than treatises on simple technical matters. Yet the 
fact remains that classical Greece was not horse country. Made 
up of islands and a rocky mountainous mainland, lacking good 
pastures, its main military strength consisted in its navy and 
in its foot soldiers. In many important battles the Greeks were 
without cavalry, and they had next to none in the famous re- 
treat from Persia. In Greece the horse was a luxury article; only 
the rich could afford it. The natural horsemen of the day were 
the Persians to the east, and the various semi-barbarous tribes- 
men of the Pontic steppes to the north. Xenophon Implies this 
when he says: 

"But what some persons fear, lest the shoulders of their 
horses should be broken in riding swiftly down steep places, let 
them be under no apprehensions about; knowing that all the 
Persians and Odrysians ride races down steep hills, who have 
horses not less sound than those of the Greeks/' 

It was only under Alexander the Great that cavalry became 
an important arm of the Greek military forces and, after all, 
Alexander came from the wide pastures of Macedonia, not 
from Greece proper and he had a great deal of ground to 
cover in a short time. 

Although Xenophon addressed the booklet on horses and 
riding to the cavalrvman, he himself does not seem always to 
to have had the greatest confidence in that branch of the service. 
When the ten thousand are left without the cavalry of their 
allies and are facing a far greater Persian force which had 
cavalry, he tells them: 

". . . but if any of you is disheartened because we have no 
cavalry while the enemy has a great deal, remember that 
ten thousand cavalry are nothing more than ten thousand men. 
For no one yet died in battle from having been bitten or 
kicked by a horse; it is men who do what is done in battle. 
We are on a far safer basis than the cavalry; for they cling 


to their horses in fear not only of us but of falling off, while 
we, marching along on the ground, shall strike much more 
strongly if anyone comes against us, and we can more easily 
hit whatever we want to. Cavalry is superior in one thing only; 
it is safer for them to run away than it is for us." 

Our knowledge of riding in ancient Rome is very spotty. 
We know, for instance, that the trot was not a generally used 
gait obviously, before the invention of stirrups, an amble 
would be considerably more comfortable. Then we know that 
after the conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar, the Roman army 
no longer had its own cavalry but employed auxiliary cavalry 
drawn from different barbarian peoples. While mounted racing 
existed, chariot racing was by far the more popular. Acrobatics 
on horse-back were also in favor; it is from these days that 
the term "Roman Riding" has come down to us. The Romans 
also had exhibitions of horses dancing to music and performing 
a movement called "Tripudium." From this term comes the 
French word for stamping with the feet, Trepigner. So 
Tripudium was evidently a sort of Piaffe. The Piaffe and 
other high-action movements were obtained at that time by 
attaching rattles to the pasterns. We know much more about 
mounted exercises in the cavalry but again, little about the 
techniques of riding. 

In the Middle Ages (circa 400-1450 A.D.) as little thinking 
was done about riding as about anything else "of this world," 
and no books on equitation proper have reached us from this 

People often say that books on riding surely must have been 
written in the Western world between the fall of Rome and 
the 16th century. True enough, books on horses were written 
before 1550, but they were concerned with stable management, 
bitting, diseases of horses, and such matters of interest to horse 
owners; they barely touched on riding. Most of these ivorks, 


written before the invention of printing in 1453, could ob- 
viously never have had a wide distribution in manuscript 
form; but a few of them were put into print much later. It 
is interesting to note that many of their authors were not even 
professional horsemen. For instance, Leone Battista Alberti 
(died 1472) was a painter and a distinguished architect. In 
equestrian literature he is known for a forty-page pamphlet, 
first printed some eighty years after his death, on the horse's 
conformation, on breeding, bits, etc., with a few pages on rid- 
ing. A still earlier writer was Petrus Crescenzi (died 1320) 
who, as an agriculturist, wrote a twelve-volume work on his 
subject. In it there are fifty-seven pages concerning care, feed- 
ing, and diseases of the horse, and a little about riding. This 
work first saw print in 1471. 

A very famous book on such matters was written by Lorenzo 
Rusio (died 1350), who was a professional stable manager, not 
a rider. As in the previous books, only a few pages deal with 
riding, and these are entirely from the point of view of a 
stable manager. Accordingly, Rusio describes how one should 
prepare the horse for riding, what is the best time of the year 
to work the horse, how to take care of the horse after riding, 
etc. This book, known in manuscript form for about one 
hundred and fifty years, was first printed around 1486, and 
was reprinted many times thereafter. I happen to have a copy 
of the last edition, printed in Paris in 1610. Thus the book 
endured for over two hundred and fifty years. This indicates 
the static condition of knowledge about horses over a long 
period of time. 

Besides these, there were manuscripts on hunting, such as 
THE MASTER OF GAME, by Edward, second Duke of York, 
the oldest English book on hunting, written between 1406 and 
1413. The greater part of this book is not original but a trans- 
lation from the French of Gaston, Count de Foix's LIVRE DE LA 


CHASSE, which was begun on May 1, 1387. These two books, 
describing in detail the mounted hunting of different quarry, 
do not even mention riding; it was taken for granted as some- 
thing every nobleman learned to do in childhood. 

Another beautifully illuminated manuscript has come down 
to us (available today in reproductions) on the proper manner 
of holding tournaments; it was written by King Rene of Anjou, 
around the year 1465 that is, soon after the generally accepted 
end of the Middle Ages. The manuscript gives all the rules 
for holding such contests but, again, methods of riding are 
not discussed. 

Since the theme of the present book is the evolution of edu- 
cated riding in the Western world it must begin with the first 
record of a complete and reasoned method of equitation. It is 
generally considered that Federico Grisone's book, published in 
Italy in 1550, is the starting point. After this the story of the de- 
velopment of the art of riding may be divided approximately 
into three periods, the first and the longest of which lasted 
almost two hundred and fifty years, until the French revolution 
of 1789. 

It was the period of the birth and development of compli- 
cated manege riding and of slow, dramatic, highly-collected 
gaits. This manege riding, with "High School" as the ultimate 
aim, became progressively more sophisticated as the privileged 
class, which particularly practiced it, became more cultivated, 
and as techniques of riding advanced through innovation. As 
what was left of the illiterate knight of the Middle Ages was 
gradually replaced by the cultivated gentleman of the Renais- 
sance, and as this new culture grew and became a habit, riding 
moved from the frequent brutality of the 16th century to the 
refinements of the 18th. All the important books of the period 
are concerned with "High School/' and it is quite obvious 
from the texts that the authors themselves practiced this and 


nothing else. But this art-for-art's-sake approach evidently did 
not always satisfy less artistic natures, and so every one of these 
books ends by claiming that the proposed method has practical 

The second period begins after the Napoleonic wars and, 
embracing the rest of the 19th century, lasts until the First 
World War. It may be considered as the period of the pre- 
dominance of military riding, which has survived into our times 
in the form of international military teams, and riding teachers 
who are former cavalry officers I being one of them. The 
important point to consider concerning the 19th century is 
the fact that even outstanding High School riders, such as 
Francois Baucher in the first half of the century, and James 
Fillis at the end of it, made every effort to sell their methods 
to the army. 

The majority of writing horsemen of the time worked on 
the same problem how to adjust 18th century classical manege 
riding to modern military purposes. But to call the 19th century 
"military" only, is to disregard the vast amount of general 
uneducated riding practiced by, for example, the English fox- 
hunter, the gentleman who hacked over to see his neighbor, the 
fast-riding postilion, or the cook ambling to market. And we 
must not forget that English sportsmen were imitated by some 
of their continental counterparts, nor that the circus (which 
then reached its peak), by introducing new High School move- 
ments, considerably extended the repertory of the latter form 
of riding. But despite all this, the term "military" describes it 
better than any other. 

The third period, the period in which jumping for sport 
in various forms has become the main subject of educated 
riding, is still going on. Later you will find out that it differs 
greatly from the two preceding periods in its aims, its tech- 
niques, the nature of its horsemen, and its organization. 



Early Dressage Riders 

When attempting to reconstruct the picture of educated 
riding during a certain period, we must know more than merely 
how men then looked in the saddle. We must also know how 
pleasure horses were used, who used them, who were the 
individuals who promoted a certain method of riding by teach- 
ing and writing about it and, finally, of what this method con- 
sisted. I may not always take these things up in this specific 
order but I shall attempt to cover all these aspects of every 
period. In this chapter I shall discuss the people who practiced 
High School in its early days. 

I have already mentioned that the first book presenting a full 
description of a special method was Federico Grisone's, Go 
ORDINI DI CAVALCARE, published in Italy in 1550. The ideas 
it contained had perhaps been in circulation for some time. 
Undoubtedly Grisone himself had practiced his method for 
many years before formulating it. Even in earlier books on 
stable management one finds here and there disconnected 
glimmerings of what was later to become part of a riding sys- 
tem. It is also possible that similar methods had already been 
used by a few individuals but had never been set down on 

The fact that the exceptionally severe bits used by the 
medieval knights were not only preserved, but their variety 


and severity increased by the early dressage riders, indicates 
that highly collected gaits were also an elaboration upon an 
inheritance. They could have evolved quite naturally from the 
unregulated prancings of the nobleman's over-fed, under- 
worked animal when held back by a strong bit a sight that was 
the admiration of the crowd at every parade and procession. 
Grisone must have observed this disorganized gait many times, 
and perhaps saw in it the possibilities of a regular cadence. 
This could certainly have been one of the inspirations of 
rhythmic movements such as the Passage. Another would have 
been circus movements. Since circus acts of various kinds can 
be traced back to very ancient times indeed, and since there 
seems always to have been a tendency for circus performers 
to follow a hereditary calling, the circus has often been a 
conservatory of techniques from the past. It is very possible 
that the high-stepping, dancing horses reported from Roman 
times went on dancing in fairs and market places right through 
the middle ages. Travelling animal trainers exhibited per- 
forming bears, monkeys, and dogs, and we know that in the 
14th century they displayed performing horses. In two illumi- 
nated manuscripts of this period, the LUTTRELL PSALTER and 
the ROMANCE OF ALEXANDER, we find riderless, but in two 
cases saddled horses executing, at the direction of a trainer 
on foot, rough versions of the future "airs above the ground/' 
All that may have been necessary to convert these to 16th 
century Dressage would have been to devise means to obtain 
high action and the various airs above the ground by the 
methods of the horseman rather than those of the animal 

Whatever may be the facts, we should consider the first 
book to present a complete method of riding as signalling 
the beginning of educated equitation. And this is probably cor- 
rect because, while nothing substantial was printed on the 



Medieval animal trainers' horses from 14th century manuscripts. A tradi- 
tion, doubtless kept alive from Roman times, was able to provide the 
Renaissance High School with ideas for "airs above the ground." The 
techniques of teaching these were probably at least partially borrowed 
from the same sources. The illustrations show a formalized leap, rearing 
and kicking. (Above: From the ROMANCE OF ALEXANDER, Courtesy of 
Bodleian Library, Oxford, England; Below: from the LUTTRELL PSALTER, 
Courtesy of British Museum, London, England.) 


subject before Grisone, books began to appear in a continuous 
stream immediately thereafter. 

The 16th century's cultivated approach to horsemanship 
originated in Italy as a part of that refinement of material living 
that accompanied the Renaissance. 

In the preceding century Italy's art was already the greatest, 
her houses the most comfortable, her clothes the most elegant 
and her manners the most cultivated in the Western world. All 
classes that could afford it pursued an ideal of accomplished 
versatility. The courtier or the gentleman was expected not 
only to be an intelligent patron of the arts and to appreciate 
music, but to be able to turn out poems himself, to speak 
other languages than his own, to be a skillful swimmer and 
fencer, a graceful dancer and an educated horseman. 

"So much is certain, that in the sixteenth century the Italians 
had all Europe for their pupils both theoretically and prac- 
tically in every noble bodily exercise and in the habits and 
manners of good society. Their instructions and their illustrated 
books on riding, fencing, and dancing served as the model, to 
other countries. . . . The important fact is that they were 
taught systematically." (From THE CIVILIZATION OF THE 
RENAISSANCE IN ITALY, by J. Burckhardt, George Allen & 
Unwin Ltd., London.) The italics are mine. 

Even if you have never held any old books of this period 
in your hands, you have probably seen reproductions of 
engravings from them. If so, you were perhaps curious to learn 
the state of mind that created and enjoyed the ambitious move- 
ments of the heavy, chunky horses of these illustrations the 
high stepping, the formalized rearings and leaps into the air 
with legs drawn up underneath or kicking out behind, the 
pirouettes at a canter, etc. You may have also noticed that 
the riders in these engravings are superbly attired and that their 
horses are often very fancifully turned out. 



The airs above the ground as the 18th century depicted them. 
The Croupade is a jump with the hind legs drawn under the body. 
The Ballotade is a jump with the hind legs drawn under the tail with 

shoes facing to the rear. 
The Capriole is a jump with the hind legs kicking out horizontally at the 

moment the forehand is at its highest above the ground. 

(From COLE DE CAVALERIE by de la Gue"riniere, 1st edition, Paris, 1733.) 



But have you ever asked yourself what way of life produced 
this formality, and who were the people who could afford 
it in the days when even the bare idea of "a high standard of 
living for all" did not exist? 

This is really a very important question, for without answer- 
ing it one cannot understand the riding of the period. It was 
a Baroque way of life, which produced a stage setting for 
absolute monarchy and which required that even those not 
quite of the blood royal should impress the common man with 

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A fancy-dress hunt in northern Italy in the 17th century. 

This picture is one of many similar illustrations in a book privately 
printed by the Duke of Savoy to commemorate a hunting house-party. As 
a matter of fact, from today's point of view the everyday lives of many of 
these people would seem little less than a costume party. Their riding 
necessarily partook of the same character. (From LA VENARIA REALE, 
printed in Italy, in 1674.) 



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their pomp and splendor. Riding, as most other activities of 
the ruling class, was made to serve this purpose. It was only 
the ruling class that had either the means, the leisure, or the 
effrontery to practice this elaborate game. For instance, Louis 
XIV's "prevailing occupation was splendor. His great palace 
at Versailles, with its salons, its corridors, its mirrors, its terraces 


and fountains and parks and prospects, was the envy and 
admiration of the world. He provoked a universal imitation. 
Every king and princelet in Europe was building his own 
Versailles, as much beyond his means as his subjects and 
credits would permit. Everywhere the nobility . rebuilt or 
extended their chateaux to the new pattern. A great industry 
of beautiful and elaborate fabrics and furnishings developed. 
The luxurious arts flourished everywhere; sculpture in ala- 
baster, faience, giltwork, metal work, stamped leather, much 
music, magnificent painting, beautiful printing and buildings, 
fine cookery, fine vintages. Amidst the mirrors and fine furni- 
ture went a strange race of 'gentlemen' in vast wigs, silks and 
laces, poised upon high red heels, supported by amazing canes; 
and still more wonderful ladies/ wearing vast expansions of 
silk and satin sustained on wire. Through it all postured the 
great Louis, the sun of his world . . ." (From THE OUTLINE 
OF HISTORY, by H. G. Wells. The Macmillan Company, New 
York, 1921). 

The unfamiliar life of another time often comes more 
vividly before our eyes when described by a contemporary. 
In THE COMPLETE HORSEMAN, first published in 1696, Sir 
William Hope, Knight, Deputy Lieutenant of the Castle of 
Edinburgh, writes: "The Art of Riding is so noble and genteel 
an Exercise, that it would require a whole Book, merely to 
deduce and express its Excellency; For as to Pleasure and State, 
what Prince or Monarch looks more great or more enthron'd, 
than upon a beautiful Horse with rich Furniture, and waving 
Plumes, making his Entry through great Cities, to amaze the 
People with Pleasure and Delight? 

"Or what more glorious and manly than, at great Marriages 
of Princes, to run at the Ring, Tilt, or Course in the Field? 
What can be more comely and pleasing, than to see horses go 
all their several Ayres? . . . But above all, what Sets-off a 


King more, than to be upon a beautiful and ready horse, at 
the Head of his Army." 

While few if any continental gentlemen of those days would 
dispute this approach to horses and riding as a source of pomp 
which separated the chosen few from the rest of humanity, 
the English country squire, whose traditional pleasure was rid- 
ing to hounds on the basis of experience rather than education, 
objected to manege riding. The Earl of Shaftesbury, in his 
17th century description of an old-fashioned squire furnishes 
the background against which the majority of Englishmen then 

"Mr. Hastings was an original in our age, or rather the 
copy of our nobility in ancient days, in hunting and not war- 
like times. He was low, very strong, and very active, of a 
reddish flaxen hair, his clothes always green cloth, and never 
all worth when new five pounds. . . . He kept all manner of 
sport-hounds that ran buck, fox, hare, otter and badger, and 
hawks long and short winged ... a house not so neatly kept 
as to shame him and his dirty shoes, the great hall strewed with 
marrow bones, full of hawks' perches, hounds, spaniels and 
terriers, the upper sides of the hall hung with the foxskins. . . . 
The parlor was a large long room ... in a great hearth paved 
with brick lay some terriers and the choicest hounds and 
spaniels; seldom but two of the great chairs had litters of young 
cats in them, which were not to be disturbed. . . . The windows 
which were very large, served for places to lay his arrows, cross- 
bows, stonebows and other such like accoutrements. . . . He 
lived to a hundred, never lost his eyesight, but always writ 
and read without spectacles, and got to horse without help. 
Until past fourscore he rode to the death of a stag as well as 

The typical English squire was particularly annoyed when 
manege schooling was presented to him as essential basic 


training even for a hunter: ". . . what is a horse good for that 
can do nothing but dance and play tricks?" Answering this 
evidently frequent derogatory remark, William Cavendish, 
Duke of Newcastle, wrote in the preface to his famous book, 
A GENERAL SYSTEM OF HORSEMANSHIP, first published in 1657: 

"... I presume those great wits (the sneering gentlemen) will 
give Kings, Princes, and persons of quality leave to love 
pleasure-horses, as being an exercise that is very noble, and that 
which makes them appear most graceful when they show them- 
selves to their subjects, or at the head of an army, to animate 
it; so that the pleasure in this case is as useful as any thing 
else, besides the glory and satisfaction that attends it." 

These quotations indicate differing attitudes of the period 
toward riding of the kind that today we call Dressage. It can 
certainly be said that the first form of educated riding was 
devised for the nobility. If one appreciates this, one is not 
surprised to find in the subtitle of Pluvinel's classic, MANEIGE 
ROYAL (1623), the assertion that this book contains "all exer- 
cises worthy of Princes." 

Psychologically this was almost inevitable. Just put yourself 
(if you can) in the place of one of these gentlemen with a 
strong sense of his God-given position in the world. Once you 
are convinced of this, once you are dressed in silks and satins, 
with a plume in your hat, gilt spurs at your heels and fringed 
gauntlets in your hand, once you live in a marble palace 
surrounded by liveried flunkeys, you will find it as incongruous 
to go for a simple morning hack along the muddy lanes as it 
would be to tear around a course of five-foot jumps. Although 
undoubtedly quite sure of your innate superiority, you will 
feel obliged to manifest this in every action of your very 
public life. You will have to do everything in a more refined, 
elaborate and impressive way than your social inferiors. 



3p-i| B 
S 2d5 


Books which were written for Princes were naturally bought 
by Princes; the list of subscribers to the DESCRIPTION DU MANEGE 
MODERNS, written in French by the Baron d'Eisenberg, but 
published in London in 1738 and dedicated to the King of 
England, clearly illustrates this fact. Some seventy-five per cent 
of the names are titled. To take only those under the letter A. 

S.A.S. Le Margrave de Brandebourg d'Anspach. 

His Grace, the Duke of Ancaster. 

His Grace, the Duke of Argile. 

The Right Honourable, the Earl of Albemarle. 

The Right Honourable, the Lord Ashburgham. 

Le Marquiss d'Aix, Envoye de Sardagne. 

Le Baron d'Alberg. 

Le Baron d'Alberg Vicedom. 

Le Baron d'Alvensleben. 

Monsieur d'Asfelt. 

M. Arundell, Esq. 

One has only to look through enough old books on riding to 
find all this confirmed again and again. For instance, de la 
Gueriniere in his book ECOLE DE CAVALERIE (1733) has five 
full-page equestrian portraits of his distinguished pupils. Only 
one of them is just M. de Kraut, while the rest are: 

The Marquis de Beauvilliers. 
The Count de St. Aignan. 
The Marquis de La Fert6. 
Charles, Prince de Nassau. 

Naturally, most of these books are dedicated to kings, 
princes, or great nobles. Although from the point of view of 
merely financing the book (something essential in those days), 


a rich merchant would have done as well, his name would 
not have carried prestige with those for whom these books were 
written nor would he have had the time at his disposal nor 
the manner of life that would have enabled him to pursue 
this type riding. 

Even in England one of the persuasive arguments for learn- 
ing riding was simply pointing out that kings and princes 
enjoyed it: 

"Many people say, That all Things in the Manege are but 
Tricks, Dancing, and Gambols, and of no Use. . . . The next 
Thing is, that they think it a Disgrace for a Gentleman to do 
any Thing well. What! be a Rider. Why not? Many Kings and 
Princes have thought themselves grac'd by being good Horse- 
men: Yea, our present and most gracious King is not only a 
very Graceful Horseman, but also taketh great Delight in 
riding, and I dare say, thinketh it no Disgrace that he is reputed 
a good Horseman." (THE COMPLETE HORSEMAN, by Sir William 

This aristocratic period of Dressage, incomplete though the 
latter may still have been technically, represents the most glor- 
ious phase of this form of riding a phase during which it was 
truly fulfilling its purpose. 


Early Dressage Teachers 

The last chapter gave a glimpse of the nature of the horsemen 
who enjoyed manege riding from the middle of the 16th 
century to the end of the 18th. Of the men who taught this 
type of equitation there were many, but I shall discuss only 
those whose contributions to riding are generally considered 
milestones in the development of the art. These are: 

Federico Grisone, Italian, whose important book was published 
in 1550 

Salomon de la Broue, French, whose important book was pub- 
lished in 1594 

Antoine de Pluvinel, French, whose important book was pub- 
lished in 1623 

William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, English, whose im- 
portant book was published in 1657 

Francois de la Gueriniere, French, whose important book was 
published in 1733 

Frederico Grisone's book, which inaugurated the new kind 
of riding, was not an isolated event even in its time. The next 
work on manege riding, by Cesare Fiaschi, appeared six years 
later, and in the course of the next twenty-five years perhaps 
as many as a dozen volumes were published in Italy alone. 


Thus Grisone's book was merely the first o those produced 
by the Italian Renaissance, with its new approach to riding 
as well as to most other things. 

In reaction to the general ignorance of the Dark Ages people 
searched for at least a rational basis for what they were doing, 
and the pompous movements of the High School suited the 
grandiose taste of the time to perfection. 

The early writers on riding were also riding teachers. Gri- 
sone helped to establish the fame of the riding school of Naples, 
and Fiaschi founded one in Ferrara. It was in the latter school 
that another great Italian of those days, Pignatelli, received 
the education which he later passed on to his pupils in the 
school of Naples. To this school came many ambitious young 
men from other countries, among them two eventually famous 
Frenchmen de la Broue and de Pluvinel. De la Broue later 
taught riding in France and his book on equitation, LE 
CAVALERICE FRANCOIS, was the first to be written by a French- 
man. De Pluvinel wrote a classic of the early 17th century, 
INSTRUCTION DU ROY, and was the teacher of the French King, 
Louis XIII. 

The traffic was both ways, Italians also going abroad to teach 
in different European countries; many came to France, some 1 
to England. However, the period of complete Italian supremacy 
in horsemanship lasted less than a century. With de la Broue 
and de Pluvinel, the fountainhead of equestrian thought moved 
from Italy to France, where it remained for a long time. 

These early days of educated riding were thus described by 
Sir William Hope in his book, THE COMPLETE HORSEMAN, 
from which I have already quoted: 

"... let us ingeneously acknowledge, that this noble Art 
was first began and invented in Italy: So that it is the Italians 
who have given the first Directions for putting in practice 
those Rules, which they invented for Dressing of Horses, and 


making them capable to serve advantagiously in War; and also, 
to give all the Satisfaction and Pleasure imaginable in the 
Carreer and Manege. 

"And as they themselves did much practice this noble Art, 
so was it also upon that Account that all the French, and other 
Nations went thither to be taught; the Seat of Horsemanship 
being first at Naples, and Afterwards at Rome, whither a great 
number of all Nations repaired, to make themselves Horsemen: 
But those who designed to come to a greater Perfection in this 
Art, went to Naples, where they were kept two or three Years, 
before the Masters so much as told them, whether they were 
capable either to learn, or become Teachers of it; so well did 
these Gentlemen know how to esteem their Talent, of which 
they were more frugal, I assure you, than People now adays are. 

"The first who ever writ of it was one Frederick Grison, a 
Neapolitan, and truly he writ like a Horseman, and a great 
Master in the Art for those Times, it being then but in its 
Infancy; for we may see to what Perfection it is brought, since 
that Time and seeing it is an easy Matter to follow a beaten 
Path, it is therefore no great wonder if the French have, since 
that Time, brought this Art to some Kind of Perfection, 
seeing other Persons gave them Matter whereupon to work; 
However, it was nobly done in Grison to have been the first 
whoever writ on this Subject, and for which he is much to be 
commended, seeing (considering the Time his Book was pub- 
lish'd) what he writ was so good. Henry the Eight sent for two 
Italians that were his Scholars, to come to him into England. . . . 

"The old Earl of Leicester sent for an excellent Rider out of 
Italy, call'd Signor Claudia Curtio, who writ a Book of 
Horsemanship, which is quoted by several Italian Writers; 
but I think that very much of his Book is stol'n out of Grison. 
. . . There is likewise Casar Fieske who writ a Book much out 
of Grison too. . . . There is another Book of Horsemanship, 


call'd Gloria del Cavallo, with long Discourses, and much out 
of Grison, especially as to what concerns the Dressing of Horses. 
. . . There is also another Italian Book of Horsemanship called 
Cavallo Frenato de Pietro Antonio, a Neapolitan, much stol'n 
out of Grison. . . . But the most famous Horseman that ever 
was in Italy, was a Neapolitan who liv'd in Naples, Call'd 
Signior Pignatel, but he never writ, altho' he could certainly 
have done it very well, being one of the ablest Masters that ever 
was in Italy; Monsieur La Broue rid under him five years, 
Monsieur de Pluvinel nine years, and Monsieur St. Anthoine 
many Years; . . . These three last mentioned Frenchmen, who 
rid under Signior Pignatel filled France with French Horsemen, 
which before was filled with Italians; Monsieur la Broue was, 
I believe, the first that ever writ on Horsemanship in the 
French Language. . . ." 

De la Broue was a gentleman who started life as a page to 
the Count d'Aubijoux, and later became an equerry in the 
royal stables, where his friend, St. Antoine, was in charge. 
The end of his life was most unfortunate, as both he and St. 
Antoine were imprisoned without ever knowing either their 
crimes or their accusers. De la Broue was in prison at the 
time of the printing of his book, and when he was, in his own 
words, "old and almost useless . . . having nothing in this 
world but a used cavesson." 

De la Broue indeed seems always to have been unlucky; 
the first manuscript of his book was lost. He rewrote it during 
a long illness, but tells us that the copy that was actually printed 
was not as full or as polished as the original one. 

De Pluvinel fared much better. Also a gentleman, he success- 
fully served three French kings, Henri III, Henri IV and Louis 
XIII. He was not merely a master of horsemanship but a 
courtier as well; on several occasions he was sent to foreign 
countries on the king's business and was to some extent em- 




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ployed in the education of the future king, Louis XIII. About 
1594 de Pluvinel founded an academy in Paris for young 
noblemen. This was not only a riding academy; mathematics, 
literature, poetry, painting and music were also taught. It was 
a kind of "finishing school" for gentlemen. 


As to Pluvinel's famous book it is rather confusing that it 
came out under two different titles. This was caused by a 
curious incident. For some unknown reason he kept his as yet 
unpolished manuscript with his friend and pupil, Ren Menou. 
When Pluvinel died, evidently unexpectedly, the artist, Crispin 
de Pas who was in the process of making the engravings to 
illustrate the book, and who already had half of the plates 
ready, became worried for fear all his work would be lost. So 
he succeeded in procuring from PluvineFs servant a garbled, 
incomplete copy of the manuscript that Pluvinel kept at home. 
He quickly finished the job of illustrating it, and published it 
in 1623 at his own expense, under the title, MANEIGE ROYAL. 
Then Menou, much upset by this, edited the manuscript that 
had been entrusted to him by the author. He published it two 
years later as INSTRUCTION DU ROY, illustrated with the same 
engravings by de Pas. Siftce the plates were by then somewhat 
worn they did not produce such perfect prints. So it is said 
today that if you wish to enjoy really fine engravings procure 
the first book, and if you wish to read de Pluvinel, buy the 
second one. However, neither is easy to obtain, for both edi- 
tions are now extremely rare, and I was lucky to have acquired 
the first one after a search of at least ten years. 

This book was written as a dialogue between the future 
king and his teacher a literary form which gave de Pluvinel, 
the courtier, an opportunity to pay homage to his master. In 
the beginning du Pluvinel addresses the dauphin: "It will be 
very easy for your majesty to understand it [dressage] and to 
execute it. For God gave to you as much as or more than to 
any prince in this world an accomplished body, and endowed 
you with such great and fine judgment that all that will be 
needed will be to choose horses worthy of so perfect a 
master. . . ." 



A lesson given by de Pluvinel (who is touching the horse with a whip) 
to the future king, Louis XIII (mounted). The subject is a series of 
Courbettes on a circle. 

Showy movements were essential to a horse who played his part in that 
continuous theatrical performance of the baroque period, in which the 
royalty and nobility were the leading actors. (From LE MANEIGE ROYAL, 
by de Pluvinel, 1st edition, Paris, 1623.) 

Not only are the dauphin's answers always the correct ones 
and always distinguished by his "great judgment," but he 
even correctly anticipates some of the questions, to the con- 
tinual admiration of his teacher. 

In this respect the book contrasts with one written shortly 
after the French revolution of 1789 by another riding teacher, 
Charles Thiroux, an ardent convert to the new republican 
ways of thinking. Thiroux claimed constantly that he wished 





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to instruct the servant more carefully than the master and 
that he was writing for everyone, for fear he would be classified 
with the "infamous Pluvinel, who had dared to vaunt that 
he had mounted a young tyrant." 

French equestrian literature is simply enormous. A bibliog- 
raphy of it completed in 1921 by General Mennessier de La 
Lance, which describes every book on horses and riding 
published in French up to that date, contains about sixteen 
hundred pages of very small print; several thousand books 
must be listed in it. Here, as I have said, I am mentioning only 
those that were important events in the history of riding. In 
this respect another horseman-writer, de la Gueriniere, who 
was active about one hundred years after de Pluvinel, deserves 
particular attention. 

Again a nobleman, de la Gueriniere, whose famous book, 
ECOLE DE CAVALERIE, appeared in 1733, maintained an "Acad- 
emy" in Paris from 1715 on; in it was taught not only equita- 
tion but "everything pertaining to the science of the horse." 
Representative of the sophistication of the 1 8th century French 
court, de la Gueriniere's book, when compared to Grisone's, 
de la Broue's or even de Pluvinel's, illustrates the growth of 
the general cultural level of the French aristocracy. As to its 
technical content, it is interesting to note that one can read 
in a pamphlet on The Foundations of the Classical Art of 
Riding, recently written by the chief of the Spanish School, 
Colonel A. Podhajsky, that the doctrines of both de la 
Gueriniere and de Pluvinel "are still in force at the Spanish 
School in Vienna." In a later chapter I shall quote at length 

Zealous teachers have always complained of a lack of serious 
pupils and of an ideal method; de la Gurini&re was no excep- 
tion. Perhaps it was his keen sense of this shortage of theory 
in riding up to his days that caused him to work on it himself 


to the extent that this became one of his great contributions 
in the field. 

"Every science and every art possesses principles and rules 
by means of which discoveries are made which lead to its 
development. Riding is the only art for which, it seems, nothing 
more than practice is necessary. Practice, however, devoid of 
true principle is no more than routine, the results of which 
are a forced and uncertain execution and a false brilliancy 
which impresses the half-educated, who are often more sur- 
prised by the willingness of the horse than by the merit of the 
rider. This is the cause of the small number of well-schooled 
horses and of the meager capabilities one finds today among 
those who call themselves horsemen. 

"This dearth of principles prevents pupils from distinguish- 
ing faults from perfections. They have nothing to fall back 
on but imitation and, unfortunately, it is easier to turn to bad 
practices than to acquire good ones." 

What about English writers on riding? The English eques- 
trian literature is also very large particularly in the 19th 
century but its subject is sport rather than the techniques 
of schooling and riding at collected gaits. The English always 
preferred hunting and racing to manege riding, and the latter 
had only one important champion, William Cavendish, Duke 
was first published while the Duke was living on the continent 
as a refugee from the Cromwellian regime. There he evidently 
developed a great taste for the French manege riding, which he 
had already studied in his youth. 

When Newcastle moved from France to Flanders. . . . "No 
stranger of note thought of passing through Antwerp without 
coming to see Newcastle's riding house . . . which, though 
very large, was so often full that 'my esquire, Captain Mazin, 
had hardly room to ride/ . . . He relates in detail the compli- 



/ m 7 

ments of some of his more important visitors, tells us how he 
himself mounted and performed before them, whilst Spaniards 
'crossed themselves and cried Miracule.V" However, when he 
was in his sixties his riding was curtailed by his wife, Margaret, 
who wrote his biography, THE LIFE OF THE THRICE NOBLE, 


says: "His prime pastime and recreation hath always been the 
exercise of manege and weapons; which heroic arts he used 
to practice every day; but I observing that when he had over- 
heated himself he would be apt to take cold, prevailed so 
far, that at last he left the frequent use of the manege." (The 
first part of this paragraph is taken from the editor's preface 
to the book.) 

As any cultivated gentleman of the 17th century, Newcastle 
had many interests besides horses. He wrote a few plays and 
poems and was a patron of several writers, scientists and philoso- 
phers (Dryden, Des Cartes, Hobbs, and others). In many in- 
stances his book reflects these hobbies. For example, defending 
High School against the remarks of some who found it useless, 
he thus philosophized: 

"If these gentlemen will retrench everything that serves them 
either for curiosity or pleasure, and admit nothing but what is 
useful, they must make a hollow tree their house, and cloth 
themselves with fig leaves, feed upon acorns, and drink nothing 
but water, for nature needs no greater support/' 

A true child of the Renaissance, he looks down on many 
superstitious concepts and practices inherited from the Mid- 
dle Ages; he already points to the errors in beliefs which were 
to remain for long after his time. In the chapter on breeding 
he says: 

"... I am no friend to astrological remarks in this case. The 
moon's aspect, or that of any other celestial body, are equally 
absurd in affairs of this kind; and it matters not whether the 
moon is increasing or decreasing, or whether any of the other 
planets are in conjunction or opposition; for horses are not 
begot by astronomy, or by the almanack. Such observations 
are as ridiculous as those relating to the point from whence 
the wind blows, to produce a male or female colt; ... or 


another of the same nature, which is, that of placing a cloth 
before the mare's face, of what color you please, that she may 
conceive a colt of the same. . . ." 

Sir William Hope enthusiastically describes the Duke of 

"After all these came the Prince of Horsemen, the great 
Duke of Newcastle, who may be justly said to have given the 
very last and master Strokes for the perfecting of this subject; 
for it was he who first described the natural and artificial 
Motions which should be made by the Legs of all Horses, 
when they are performing such and such an Ayre, which is 
the Foundation and very ground-work of Horsemanship. . . ." 

The Duke of Newcastle would have readily agreed with the 
compliments paid him by Sir William and, as a matter of fact, 
at the end of his own book he evaluates it thus: 

". . . if this work pleases you, I shall be thoroughly well 
satisfied; if not, I shall be content in my own mind; because 
I know certainly that it is very good, and better than any 
thing that you have had before of the kind." 

This enviable self-assurance reminds one that a sense of 
superiority would have been a natural characteristic of almost 
every aristocrat of those days. We must remember that every 
equestrian writer mentioned in this chapter was a nobleman. 
Newcastle was more than that; he was a duke and one of the 
wealthiest peers of England; the others belonged to the minor 
nobility and were not rich. Despite this, they all represented 
a single class in which the man at the bottom and the man 
at the top had the same ideals. The "noble" art of riding in the 
16th, 17 and 18th centuries was both developed and practiced 
by noblemen. These circumstances gave it certain forms which 
I shall describe in the next chapter. 

The epithet "noble" for a horse is also a survival from a past 
when it was almost always the attribute of his rider. This 



Modesty was no part of the 17th century nobleman's mental equipment. 
The Duke of Newcastle could conceive of himself as mounted on Pegasus 
executing a Capriole, with the gods of Olympus looking down, and the 
horses from his own stables paying homage in a proper High School 
manner. (From A GENERAL SYSTEM OF HORSEMANSHIP, by William Caven- 
dish, Duke of Newcastle, with 17th century plates. Edition of 1743.) 

attribute can be traced much further back than the Middle 
Ages. Into the ancient world, which means the Near East and 
the Mediterranean basin, the horse came as an import from the 
pastures of the North. As an imported article, not too well 
suited to his environment, he remained a luxury, and a luxury 
of primary value in warfare. As a luxury and a piece of equip- 
ment as precious as first class armor he was the prerogative of 
the ruling class. Some vague aura of all this still clings to him 
and increases the pleasure of many people who ride horesback 


Early Dressage's Place in Life 

As I have shown in a previous chapter, educated riding in 
the strict sense of the term did not exist before the 16th 
century or, if it did, we have no knowledge of it. The simple, 
practical riding of the Middle Ages was based merely on in- 
dividual ability to handle the horse and on experience while, 
outside of war itself, mounted warlike games and hunting were 
the only place to demonstrate one's horsemanship. Therefore a 
horse's schooling would necessarily be limited to what enabled 
the warrior to use his weapons with skill, or the hunter to fol- 
low his quarry, or to what made a pleasant hack for the road. 

There can be few riders of the Western world who have not 
at one time or another titillated their imaginations by fancying 
themselves knights in armor. I am no exception. But from the 
horseman's point of view it has always proved a frustrating expe- 
rience. I find myself incased in steel from head to foot, looking 
out at the world through a narrow slit; I am literally wedged 
in a high wooden saddle; only one hand is free for the reins, 
since the other guides and supports a long, heavy lance; the 
stiff saddle and still more, the horse's armor if he is wearing 
it, prevent my communicating with his sides in any but a hit 
or miss fashion at the end of my eight-inch-long rowelled spurs. 
It becomes quite evident that I not only cannot hope to obtain 
a good movement from the animal under these circumstances 


The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Mid- 16th-century German armor for man and horse; the knight's armor 
weighs 56 pounds and that of the horse (saddle included) 92 pounds. This 
type of armor, which first began to appear in the 14th century, was ^pre- 
ceded by chain mail for both mount and man a form of protection 
equally cumbersome, and usually more so. The 13th century horse might 
also be covered to below his hocks by a trapping of heavy fabric or leather, 
but it is said that this reduced the efficiency of his rider to that of the 
slowest infantryman. 

but that if I should do so no one would see it under all the 
trappings. I myself cannot tell whether the horse's neck and 
head are in the proper attitude, whether his mouth is open 
or his sides yielding. As a matter of fact, all this would be 
quite unnecessary for the sole purpose of unhorsing my op- 
ponent and, with luck, bringing down his horse as well. 

All I need for combat is a bold, strong horse that can be 
trained to go without hesitation straight toward the horse 
that is galloping at him, and not to be dismayed when the 



The Metropolitan Museum of Art 
Rogers Fund, 1904 

This German armor (ca. 1500) is for a joust run in the open field with- 
out a barrier between the combatants, the object being to unhorse one's 
opponent and splinter one's lance. This armor weighs 85 pounds. 

The straw-filled cushion worn over the chest of the horse prevented 
injury to the horse's forehand and the rider's legs, should the two horses 

The 12' to 14' lance made of pine (since it was meant to break if prop- 
erly aimed) was supported on a heavy rest bolted to the knight's breast- 
plate. The jousting lance frequently had a head consisting of three prongs 
arranged in a crown. These prevented its slipping on the smooth helmet 
and enabled the full force of the impact to be used in pushing. The 
riders passed left arm to left arm. 

It is clear that, with the weight and rigidity of this armor and the con- 
testant's primary preoccupation with unhorsing his rival, it would have 
been impossible for the rider to obtain refined or elaborate movements 
from his horse; these were, in fact, unnecessary. 



lances hit the shields. After this, if my opponent is still in the 
saddle, my horse must be one which I can turn readily in order 
to resume the attack. 

Moreover, it is obvious that to carry an armored knight, a 
heavy saddle and, often enough, armor of his own, a heavy 
horse was needed. It is also clear that once such a combined 
weight got rolling it would require strong measures to stop 
it in a hurry hence the brutal bits. Again, to overcome the 
initial inertia of all this weight, very sharp incentives were 
needed hence the vicious spurs. These were not means by 

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art? New York City 

These XVth century spurs indicate the remoteness of the rider's heels 
from the horse's sides, hence the difficulty of refined control of a medieval 
war horse. Top Italy, neck 5"; center Germany, neck 63/4"; bottom 
France, neck 7 14". 



(Left) This mild bit was invented by Antonio Pignatelli, famous in- 
structor at the school of Naples. (From TRAITTE DES EMBOUCHEURES, by 
Samuel Fouquet, Paris, 1663.) 

(Right) This bit, with part of its headstall, was recommended for teach- 
ing a horse that was stiff in one side to make a turn, the spikes bearing 
on the opposite side of the head when the rein was pulled. Spikes might 
be placed only on one side. (From GLI ORDINI DI CAVALCARE, by Federico 
Grisone, German edition of 1608.) 

which to attain elegant or precise movements, even if the 
horse in question would have been able to perform them, 
loaded as he was. 

When riding changed, and in the 16th century High School 
movements including formalized kicking, rearing and "ayres 
above the ground' ' such as Capriole or Ballotade were intro- 
duced, some of their sponsors liked to claim that these were 
practical for war or tournaments. I suspect that they made 
these claims simply to sell their methods to the hard-headed, 
practical man. It seems they were not always successful. For 


instance, an Englishman, Thomas Blundevill, at the time of 
Queen Elizabeth wrote: 

". . . unless your horse be naturally light of his body and 
nimble of his legs, it is unpossible by Art to make him to do 
any of these things well; and to say the truth, they be things 
that may be very well spared, and specially in horses of service, 
which being once used to such delighting toies, do forget in 
time of nead their necessarie feats. For when they are spurred 
to go forward, or to passe a cariere, they fal a hopping and 
dansing up and down in one place. Likewise, when in their 
manege they should make a speedy round, and just turn, either 
single or double, they will not turn but leisirely with the Cor- 
vetti: and therefore I would wish none of the Queenes Majesties 
Horses to be used to the Corvetti but such as are onely left 
for pleasure, where of it is sufficient to have in her highnesse 
stable two or three at the most." (THE ART OF RIDING.) 

There is another reason why the High School jumps were 
impractical for war. Although the chief of the Spanish School 
of Vienna, Colonel A. Podhajsky, in his booklet on the Spanish 
School, says that the Courbette was taught for use in battle, 
since it would help a rider surrounded by infantrymen to rid 
himself of them, he goes on to add that the difficultness of 
this movement is attested by the fact that it may take years to 
find a stallion with an aptitude for it. This indicates how rare 
was the happy horseman who could hope to escape the enemy 
if relying mainly on airs above the ground. 

Historically, such claims of High School riders have no real 
factual foundation, except perhaps in isolated cases. Long 
before High School originated, the type of warfare for which 
such a movement as the Courbette was supposed to be useful 
was becoming obsolete. By the time the first books on equita- 
tion were written, the lance and the sword were losing to 
fire-arms. The period of early artistic riding coincided with the 


decline of individual or small-group fighting with "cold arms." 
". . . At Crecy the horse proved the weak link in the French 
organization, for of the next great battle, namely Poitiers 
(1356) we find John le Bel writing of the French knights: 
'All fought on foot, through fear that, as at the battle of 
Crecy, the archers would kill their horses/ . . . From the battle 
of Poitiers onward cavalry fell into a rapid decline; the French 
knights learnt nothing, and as the bow and pike destroyed 
them a new weapon arose in the crude bombard of the 14th 
century, which was destined to revolutionize the whole art of 
war . . . the knight exchanged his lance for the petronel, a 
type of hand cannon, in order to fire on infantry in place of 
charging them. This form of attack was first used by the 
French at the battle of Cerisoles, in 1544, and proved effective. 
. . . Soon the petronel was replaced by the arquebus-a-rouet, and 
a little later on by the wheel-lock pistol, which was first used by 
the German cavalry at the battle of St. Quentin, in 1557." 
(THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, 14th edition, in the article 
on ''Cavalry/') 

It was. not until the first half of the 17th century that the 
cold arms of the cavalry regained their importance, but by 
then warfare was entirely altered and light cavalry charged in 
large organized bodies supported by infantry and artillery fire. 
In answer to the common question whether High School 
horses of this period were used for hunting, equestrian history 
indicates that this was not a general practice. Fully schooled 
manege horses, trained at slow, extremely collected gaits, were 
not in the habit of galloping fast nor of coping with uneven 
terrain. It is also hard to see why a nobleman rich enough 
to have "parade" horses in his undoubtedly large stable should 
have used them for every kind of service; he certainly had others 
that were more suited to the chase. 



Horses turned out in a manner appropriate for 17th century jousting in 

It is interesting to compare these definitely flat saddles with the earlier 
deep tournament saddles (From HOF-KRIEGS-UND REIT-SCHUL, by E. von 
Lohneisen, 3rd edition, Niirnberg, 1729.) 


The principle of specialization of work for horses, depend- 
ing on their suitability, is very old. The Romans had different 
categories of horses: itinerarii for travel; gradarii for hacking; 
venedi for hunting; cantherii, pleasure horses. 

This practical system would be bound to obtain wherever 
the horse was extensively used and put to various purposes. 
Therefore it is safe to assume that it continued throughout the 
Middle Ages, wherever and whenever there was enough pros- 
perity and security to permit it. In fact, we know that it 
existed in the late Middle Ages. In the England of Chaucer's 
time, for instance, there were palfreys, amblers, coursers, steeds, 
dexters, hackneys, capuls, etc. The palfrey was a good-quality 
general purpose riding horse; the ambler an animal which 
ambled, popular with the elderly or infirm or for long distances; 
the courser was a fast horse for informal racing and hunting, 
the steed or dexter a warhorse; the hackney a poor quality 
three-gaited riding horse, and the capul a draft horse. 

The Duke of Newcastle explained at length that one cannot 
expect either a human being or a horse to be equally good at 
all services: 

". . . one is capable of being a bishop; another is hardly fit 
to be a reader, or school-master in a country parish-church. In 
like manner, some are good astronomers, and others are not 
capable of making an almanack or sun-dial; some understand 
algebra perfectly, and others know nothing of addition and 
subtraction. ... If the horse is fit to go a Travelling, let him 
do it. If he is naturally inclined to make Curvets, he must be 
put to it ... if he be not cut for that, use him as a drudge to 
do errands. If none of these suit him, he will perhaps be good 
for racing, hunting, or travelling, or for the portmanteau, . . . 
so that it is the fault of the horseman, and not of the horse, if 
he passes for a jade; for really there is no horse but what is fit 
for some use or other. ..." (The italics are mine.) 


The concept of an "all-around horse" on a high level of rid- 
ing is a product, by the way, of the military domination of 
riding in the 19th century. The average cavalry officer had 
two horses; with these, which had necessarily to be trained to 
the parade and formation riding, he also wished to participate 
in the various equestrian sports open to him: hunting, steeple- 
chasing, etc. Out of this arose the conception of the ideal 
officer's charger, and this is the origin of the Combined Train- 
ing Tests of today. 

It is not easy to reconstruct the riding of the Middle Ages, 
since books on horsemanship did not exist for the simple reason 
that most noble knights were illiterate, while learned clerks 
did not participate in equestrian games. But the elementary 
riding that I have described would be in perfect harmony 
with the simple and often brutal mounted contests of the 
period. As early as about the year 1300 regulations began to 
appear intended to make tournaments (combats between two 
groups of knights) and jousts (combats between two individual 
knights) less barbarous. Swords with points, pointed daggers, 
clubs and maces were gradually prohibited. Jousting lost many 
of its dangers after the invention of the "tilt" at first a 
stretched cloth and later a wooden barrier along either side 
of which the two contestants galloped to meet each other. Many 
old-timers must have passed remarks about the effeteness of 
the new generation. But tournaments still were frequently 
bloody affairs. Perhaps the last important victim was Henry II, 
king of France, who died from a lance stroke in a tournament 
in 1559. 

It is indeed hard to agree with the usual claims of early High 
School riders that refined manege horsemanship could be 
helpful to the knight in tournaments or jousting. The great 
French chronicler Froissart devotes many pages to detailed de- 
scriptions of some thirty individual jousts between English 



Jousting in Paris at the beginning of the 17th century. 

A wooden barrier (tilt) separates the two contestants. 

This "knightly exercise," which served a practical purpose in the 
Middle Ages, was now preserved only as a part of pageantry, and was 
soon to die out completely. (From LE MANEIGE ROYAL, by de Pluvinel, 1st 
Edition, Paris, 1623.) 

and French contestants during a meet of several days at Saint 
Ingylbertes in France, in 1390. The general pattern was the 
same in every encounter. The two contending knights would 
first occupy their respective positions and then would gallop 
at each other. Some horses, knowing what to expect, naturally 
did not want to gallop straight at the other horse, hence in many 
cases they "crossed" or "refused." It was obviously not easy to 
keep a horse galloping straight against an expected unpleasant 
experience, guiding him with one hand and supporting a heavy 
lance with the other, while bracing the legs forward in the 
stirrups in preparation for a heavy blow. But when the knights 


did meet they struck each other with their lances once, then 
returned to their places to repair damages and prepare for the 
next run. 

Froissart says: "Than came forthe an exquyer of Englande, 
called Blaquet, and sent to touche an the shelde of the lorde 
of Saynt Pye, who was ready to answer. . . . The first course 
they taynted eche other on their helmes, and loste their staves; 
they toke their staves agayne, and in the aprochyng their horses 
crossed, and so passed by, and returned agayne to their places: 
they taryed not long, but ran eche at other: with that course 
Blaquet strake the lorde of Saynt Pye a hye on the helme, and 
gave hym a sore stroke, and Saynt Pye strake him in the sight 
of the helme a sorer stroke, so that therwith he was unhelmed 
that the bocle behinde brake, and the helme fell to the grounde: 
than Blaquet returned to his company, and justed no more that 
day: and the lorde of Saynt Pye sate styll on his horse abyding 
other comers." (Lord Berners' translation, printed in 1523.) 

The pageantry of the dying tournament was gradually trans- 
ferred to its direct descendant, the relatively gentle carrousel. 
In this the competitive spirit was satisfied by harmless feats in 
which the skill of contestants with pistol, sword, and lance 
was tried individually on inanimate objects. The knights no 
longer broke lances fighting each other; at most the combat of 
former days was merely simulated. Now the contestant would 
ordinarily essay to hit the head of a mechanical wooden figure 
with his lance; if he struck it other than in the right place it 
would quickly swing around and give the horseman a blow 
on the back with a wooden sword, undoubtedly to the delight 
of the audience. This dummy was called the Quintain. 

This arena contest was the ancestor of our horse show. The 
tournament of the Middle Ages, the carrousel of the 18th cen- 
tury, the military 19th century competition in the use of the 
sword and the lance, and the horse show of today, have all 



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satisfied the human desire to exhibit skill and win a game. The 
difference in form is merely the result of different ways of life. 
But let us return to the 16th century, the century that gave 
birth to scholastic riding with artistic aims. The renaissance 
in Italy was already more than a century old, and the upper 
class of society no longer resembled its rude ancestors. The 


refinement of those, at the top at least, was evident not only 
in Italy but, in varying degrees, all over Europe. The sharp 
distinction that had existed throughout the Middle Ages be- 
tween the literate clerk and the warring baron was almost 
eliminated, and the well-rounded gentleman was supposed to 
combine the learning of the one with the masculine virtues of 
the other. 

In the second half of the 16th century in Italy, and later in 
other parts of Europe, the more restrained forms of the Renais- 
sance began to be superseded by the lavish ones of the Baroque, 
that is of a style based on a tendency toward exaggeration and 
ostentation. Art, with new knowledge at its command, ex- 
ploited every trick to achieve the dramatic and the effective; 
painting was full of writhing bodies, striking highlights, and 
dark shadows; architecture bulged and billowed in unrestrained 
virtuosity, palaces covered more and more acres, their gardens 
swarming with statuary and erupting with fountains. With new 
talents and new brains coming up in the world, the old ideal 
of * 'noblesse oblige" was replaced by unabashed self-advertising. 
In this the horse played his role. Conveyances have always been 
a status symbol, whether they were cart, chariot, carriage, or 
cadillac, hackney or lively charger. The rich man's pampered 
steed was apt to be fat and bouncy, prancing and cavorting all 
over the lot, while the poor man's jade-of-all-trades moved along 
at a sober, dogged pace. In the popular imagination the spirited 
animal represented power and wealth. What High School did 
was to take the prancings and rearings and cavortings, to label 
and regularize and control them, and put them into a system 
to serve the purpose of the age the glorification of the great. 

Not only did the various airs above the ground, the Ballo- 
tade, the Capriole, etc., suit the needs and the taste of the 
times to perfection, but even the clumsy horses with bulging 
curves seen in contemporary pictures appear to have been 
expressly bred for the Baroque era. 



It would hardly have done for the horses who pulled these baroque 
sleighs to move at a free, relaxed pace. One artificiality calls forth an- 
other, and a measured prancing would have been the only appropriate 
gait here. (From HOF-KRIEGS-UND REIT-SCHUL, by K von Lohneisen, 3rd 
edition, Niirnberg, 1729.) 


But if riding took Baroque forms it was not because the 
horsemen of the time consciously aimed at being up-to-date 
but because they schooled their horses for events of a decidedly 
Baroque nature for pageants at royal or princely courts. The 
new type of riding at highly collected dramatic gaits was used 
mainly then for parades and carrousels, and the latter included 
individual exhibitions. None of this was practiced in blue 

Edward Phillips in his NEW WORLD OF WORDS, printed in 
1658, gives a contemporary definition of Carrousel, 

"Carrousel, a magnifecent Festival made by Princes and 
Great Men, upon some occasion of public rejoycing, and con- 
sists in a Cavalcade of Nobility sumptuously apparel'd, and 
clad after the manner of the ancient Knights, who repairing to 
some public Piazza, shew their activity in running at the Ring, 
Jousting, Turnaments, and such other noble Exercises." 

In the great equestrian fte given by Louis XIV in 1662 to 
celebrate the birth of the heir to the throne, the King himself 
and a great number of the princes and nobles of the court par- 
ticipated. They were divided into groups, each group repre- 
senting a nation, classical or exotic; Romans, Persians, Turks 
and even Americans these being among the exotic. The King 
was dressed as a Roman, in silver brocade enriched with gold 
and decorated with diamonds; his casque, boots, saddle and 
reins were all gilt and studded with precious stones. The other 
important personages participating in this quadrille were at- 
tired in a correspondingly sumptuous manner; even the pages 
and grooms were elaborately costumed for the occasion. 

De La Gueriniere thus described the carrousel of the first 
half of the 18th century: 

"The carrousel is a military fete or a sham combat presented 
by a troup of horsemen, divided into several quadrilles [teams] 
in order to participate in contests for which prizes are given. 


The spectacle should be ornamented with chariots, floats, deco- 
rations, concerts, recitals, devices and mounted ballets, whose 
diversity forms a magnificent sight. . . . 

"As the subject matter of the carrousels is historical, fabulous 
or emblematic, the defendents and the challengers ordinarily 
assume names conformable to the subject they represent. For 
example, those who represent illustrious Romans take the 
names of Julius Caesar, Augustus, etc. . . . 

"For a warlike harmony trumpets, drums, cimbals, oboes and 
fifes are used ... as for the music which accompanies the 
chariots and floats, it is composed of violins, flutes, bag-pipes 
and oboes. Dances and horse ballets are also made to the sound 
of these instruments. . . . 

"Of all the courses that were anciently run ... in the carrou- 
sels have been preserved only the 'Course de Tetes et de 
Bagues.' When running at heads the lance, the dart, the sword 
and the pistol are used." (ECOLE DE CAVALERIE.) 

The "Course de Tetes" consisted of attacking a painted plac- 
ard or the head of a wooden figure, past which one galloped, 
with any one of the above arms. The "Bague" was a suspended 
ring to be pierced with a lance. 

That part of the carrousel from which exhibitions such as 
of the Spanish School of today are descended was the horse 
ballet. In 1667 Kaiser Leopold of the Holy Roman Empire 
was himself the main actor in an elaborate horse ballet held 
in Vienna: 

". . . there were forty-nine riders with the Kaiser, of whom 
nine rode courbetting horses, four rode horses which two- 
tracked at a canter, and four horses which executed High School 
jumps [such as the Capriole, etc.] . . . The Kaiser made his en- 
trance in the first figure with several elegantly executed Cour- 
bettes. ... As soon as the trumpets blew again four of the 
riders who had entered with the Kaiser also making Courbettes 
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air, they had surrounded the Kaiser, who had stationed himself 
a little toward of them. This was the first turn." There were 
twenty more "turns." (From Lohneisen's HOF-KRIEGS-UND REIT- 
SCHUL, revised edition of 1729.) 

The same German book suggests prizes for such affairs: 

1st A diamond ring. 

2nd A gold repeating watch. 

3rd A dagger set with precious stones. 

4th A gold snuff box set with diamonds. 

5th A pair of pistols mounted with silver and gold. 


No other type of riding would have suited the pomp and 
circumstance of the period so perfectly as Dressage. Even today, 
in a very different setting, well-executed Dressage on the level 
of the Grand Prix is a beautiful sight. Perhaps still more im- 
pressive than any individual performance are such horse ballets 
as those of the Spanish School of Vienna and of the Saumur 
Cavalry School in France. Everyone who visits the Vienna 
School today falls under the spell of the white horses dancing 
in a columned hall. I am only sorry that the riders of Vienna 
now wear sober Empire costumes and that the Lipizanners do 
not carry plumes on their polls. 

The type of riding I have just described obtained throughout 
most of western Europe from the Renaissance to the end of the 
18th century. Riding in England, however, would have pre- 
sented a rather different picture. This is because England her- 
self presented a different one. 

At the end of the 15th century the great nobles who had 
eaten each other up during the Wars of the Roses began to 
give place, under the Tudors, to an ever more numerous coun- 
try gentry. The English gentleman of that day possessed a love 
of rural life quite remarkable to continental visitors; he was 
also a member of a far less rigid class system than those visitors; 
and after the time of Charles II the royal court was not impor- 
tant enough to form a focus for society. Hence the English 
gentleman hunted the deer and when, as a result of the reduc- 
tion of forest land, that quarry grew scarce, the hare, and later 
still the fox as well. His riding was primarily riding to hounds. 
Thus, rather than concentrating on the scholastic side of riding, 
the Englishman developed a sporting attitude toward it. 

"Sir Edward Harwood presented to Charles I a memorial 
setting forth the great scarcity of good and stout horses for the 
defence of the kingdom . . . and he ascribed this state of things 
to the popularity of racing and hunting, which called for lighter 


and swifter horses." (William Ridgeway, THE ORIGIN. AND IN- 

"The principles of the English school are rather vague. Fur- 
thermore, there were few English horsemen [educated] and they 
wrote little. The genius of the nation leaning much more to- 
ward practical and utilitarian than toward theoretical. 

"The English school made a complete revolution in the 
equestrian world. It founded speed racing and regenerated the 
breeds of horses. But if at first they had a method and masters, 
it soon fell into a latent state. A very developed taste for horses 
exists in this country; as to equestrian principles, they have 
completely disappeared. Horsemen have an incontestable bold- 
ness but no method." (ORIGINES DE L'COLE DE CAVALERIE," by 
Captain L. Picard, 1890.) 

The scholastic approach to riding on the continent, on the 
one hand, and the sporting attitude in England on the other, 
resulted in the fact that even today many equestrian technical 
terms in the English language are of Italian or French origin, 
while a considerable part of the French equestrian sporting 
vocabulary is English. For instance, we use such terms as pas- 
sage, piaffe, courbette, capriole, appuyer, volte, pesade, manege, 
ruade, cavesson, amble, cadence, cavaletti, equitation, dressage, 
etc. On the other hand the French today employ such English 
terms as steeplechase, jockey, gentleman-rider, meet, hunter, 
"cross" (for cross country), oxer, etc. The French also use the 
English word "jumping/' and it is rather startling to read a 
report of a Paris show under the heading of "Jumping de 
Paris." The old French word "sauteur," that is literally a 
jumper, is limited by 400 years of use to designate a High 
School horse that performs such jumps as the Ballotade or 
the Capriole. 

But more important than this exchange of terms was the fact 
that English practical cross-country riding eventually influenced 


the theoretical continental manege. A blend of both made its 
appearance in France at the end of the 18th century. Today the 
reverse has taken place; at least some of the English who have 
fallen under the influence of German dressage riding have im- 
ported its practices into England and promoted a mixture of 
the two schools, with the further addition of a few modern 


The Substance of Early Dressage 

Since the beginning of educated manege riding many genera- 
tions of horsemen have worked to improve it. In the course of 
this long process better techniques were conceived and the 
crude methods of the early horsemen were gradually replaced 
by more refined means. The 16th century masters of equitation 
are often accused of being cruel. The vast number of illustra- 
tions of vicious bits of the time, as well as many passages in 
contemporary books, testify to the justness of this indictment. 
But, of course, we must not forget that this was three hundred 
years before a humane society was thought of. 

This cruelty stemmed not only from the general cruelty of 
the times but also, ironically, from an attitude towards the 
horse that credited him with a more human type of mentality 
than we ascribe to him today. Grisone and his followers be- 
lieved that the horse's disobedience arose from wilful stubborn- 
ness rather than from fright or inability to understand what 
was asked of him. Hence the severity of the punishments was 
morally justified. Grisone compensated for them to some extent 
by rewarding an obedient horse with caresses, but among some 
of his followers the punishments were more severe and the re- 
wards less frequent. For instance Grisone writes: 

"If the horse, either from fear of work or on account of ob- 
stinacy, etc. does not wish to approach the mounting block in 


order to be ridden, you will hit him with a stick between the 
ears on the head (but be careful of the eyes) and on all parts 
of the body where it seems best to you, and also threatening 
him with a rude and terrible voice, so that, realizing that you 
are as obstinate as he, he will become as easy to mount as a 
lamb and will approach without making any more resistance; 
but you must also pat and caress him every time he comes will- 
ingly and does what you wish." 

To cure a horse who has a tendency to lie down in water 
when passing through it Thomas Blundevill says you should 
"Cause a servant to ride him into some river or water, not over 
deepe, and appoint three other footemen with cudgels in their 
hands, to follow him hard at the heeles into the water, to the 
intent that when the horse beginneth to lie down, they may 
be readie to leape upon him, and with the helpe of the rider 
to force him to ducke his head downe under the water, so as 
the water may enter into his eares: not suffering him to lift 
up his head againe of a good while together, but make him by 
maine force to keepe it still under, continually beating him 
all the while with their cudgels, and rating him with lowde 
and terrible voices: that done, let him onely lift up his head 
to take breath and aire. During which time, cease not also to 
beate him still upon the head, betwixt the eares: which done, 
ducke his head with like violence once againe into the water, 
and then let him rise up upon his feet: and whilst he is passing 
through the water, let the men follow after him, beating him 
and rating him all the way, untill he be cleane out of the 
water, and then leave, for otherwise it were disorder." (THE 
ART OF RIDING, about 1560.) 

The number, variety, and extravagance of the means devised 
at the time to make a horse simply move forward make one 
wonder if the animal was indeed as stubborn and cold-blooded 
as the authors make him out to be, or if he was not so uncom- 


fortably bitted that he moved in any direction with reluctance. 
For instance Blundeville also suggests how a rider who "lacketh 
arte, and knoweth not by order of riding how to get the maistrie 
of his horse" may correct his stubbornness and make him move 

"Let a footman stand behind you with a shrewd cat tied at 
the one end of a long pole, with hir bellie upward, so as she 
may have hir mouth and clawes at libertie; and when your horse 
doth staie or goe backward, let him thrust the cat betwixt his 
thighs, so as she may scratch and bite him, sometimes by the 
thighs, sometimes by the rumpe . . . and let the footman and 
all the standers-by threaten the horse with a terrible noise, and 
you shall see it will make him to go as you will have him, and 
on so doing be ready to make much of him. Also, the shrill crie 
of a hedgehog being strait tied by the foot under the horse's 
taile is a reminder of like force, which was proved by Master 
Vincentio Respino a Neapolitan, who corrected by this means 
an old restive horse of the King's in such sort, as he had much 
ado afterward to keepe him from the contrarie vice of running 
awaie. The like correction also may be given with a whelpe, 
or some other loud-crieing and biting beast, being tied to the 
crupper, so he may hang downe under the horse's taile, having 
a long ende fastened unto him, which ende, passing between 
the horse's thighs, the rider shall hold in his right hand to 
molest the horse therewith by pulling it and letting it go as he 
shall see it needful. Or, instead of such a beast, there may be 
tied a piece of iron of a foote in length, or more, and three 
fingers broade, made full of prickles like thornes." 

Despite this to us extraordinary callousness towards beasts 
both great and small, Blundeville still believes that they have 
better natures which can be appealed to, and when the horse 
yields to these complicated coercions he often suggests that he 
should "be made much of," 


Blundeville's cruelty may have been obvious and stupid but, 
unfortunately, one cannot say that cruelty was confined to the 
early period of educated riding alone. The same human stu- 
pidity and the same resultant cruelty may be encountered, al- 
though in different forms, today. Only people now practice it 
behind the barn and do not write about it. However, another 
kind of cruelty the accepted, hence to many invisible, cruelty 
inherent in asking of the horse much more than he can do with 
ease is as widespread today as it was in the 16th century; the 
forms alone have changed. The very severe bits, the vicious 
spurs, the pillars, the attendants with whips, etc., of the early 
High School were necessary because people were requiring too 
much of the horse, and knew no other means of achieving the 
desired results. And although later, with improved techniques, 
many cruel practices were eliminated, the attempts to force 
nature remained. Horses were never monkeys in their past, 
and acrobatics can hardly appeal to them as much as they do 
to us. Today the cruel aims have switched from manege riding 
to sport, and people who wouldn't kill a fly cripple horses on 
the track or in the jumping arena in pursuit of the barely at- 
tainable. Since this kind of cruelty is more widespread and at 
the same time less apparent to most people, it is really a greater 
menace than the obvious beating of a horse. 

But to return to Grisone his text is not well constructed. 
On the one hand it fails to give general principles; on the 
other, it contains too many confusing details. All this, of course, 
is to be expected from a pioneer. But it does describe such 
basic things as teaching the horse to move on the bit, collection, 
backing, side-stepping, suppling the horse, obtaining softness, 

Early High School trainers, among them Grisone, evidently 
experimented with many methods of trying to persuade the 
horse to do what they wanted. One approach that would seem 



16th century schooling. 

Since the horseman of that period pursued highly artificial aims, but 
possessed as yet imperfect techniques, he needed help from the ground 
(at least at the beginning of schooling). 

The role of the dismounted men here, holding the horse back with 
raised whips while be is being urged forward, was later played by the 
pillars. These are an illustration of early efforts to teach the horse collection 
a study he can hardly ever have enjoyed. (From a German 16th century 
edition of GLI ORDINI DI CAVALCARE, by Federico Grisone.) 


strange to us today in the teaching of Dressage was the means 
by which they claimed to appeal to the horse's visual sense. A 
straight path, bounded on either side by heaped earth or brush- 
wood, would terminate at either end by circles of the desired 
diameter, similarly inclosed and with stakes in the center. The 
horse going back and forth along this clearly marked channel 
would acquire the habit of moving straight and, being forced 
to make his voltes (or whatever other type of turn was required) 
within a firmly defined area, would also become accustomed to 
execute very small circles with considerable precision. To us 
these walled corridors seem more like a painless form of coer- 
cion than an appeal to the visual senses. At all events, they were 
obviously not a permanently successful way of schooling a horse 
(perhaps because both he and the rider came to depend upon 
them too much) and they were abandoned by the 17th century 

De la Broue, one of Grisone's French followers, working 
with the advantage of time and a larger body of experience 
to draw upon, and probably assisted by the lucidity of his 
French mind, was able to go so far as to define good hands as 
those "which knew how to resist and how to yield at the proper 
moment, and to control with precision the action produced 
by the legs/* Among other things, he improved the bits sug- 
gested by Grisone, introduced three types of flexions of the 
neck, investigated causes of resistance in the horse and the rea- 
sons for a hard mouth, and worked him in a less confined 

De la Broue was one of the first to recognize that such primi- 
tive means as those described in the quotations above could 
lead neither to precision in obedience nor refinement in move- 
ment. He also considers that the majority of horses disobey 
through misunderstanding or as a result of such abuse and, 
speaking of animals with naturally difficult dispositions, he spe- 
cifically says: "I could add a large number of remedies which 


I once practiced to make stubborn horses go forward, either by 
fire or water applied in different ways to their most sensitive 
parts. . . . and even by means of animals and other things at- 
tached to the tail or under it. ... but because I am an enemy 
to those little secrets which have been invented for lack of 
skill, I shall leave the description and the practice of them to 
others who lay more importance on them than I do." 

De Pluvinel, who came after de la Broue and who invented 
the double pillars for training horses to High School airs, is 
credited with having done more to instruct the French nobility 
in advanced horsemanship than any of his predecessors, both 
through his own teaching and through the numerous schools 
founded throughout France by his pupils. Thus the ground 
was gradually prepared for the appearance of de la Guerini&re 
who, working in the first half of the 1 8th century, substantially 
improved Dressage and brought the hundred and seventy-five- 
year-old method to the height reached in his day. He represents 
the acme of early High School. 

His most important book, COLE DE CAVALERIE (the word 
"Cavalerie" here means horsemanship) was published in 1733. 
Its three parts deal with conformation, riding and schooling, 
and diseases of the horse. The table of contents of the riding 
and schooling section lists the subjects that were taught and 
thus helps us to reconstruct the picture of manege riding in his 
day. I quote it in full from Chapter VI on (the previous chap- 
ters merely explain the equestrian vocabulary, give a descrip- 
tion of gaits, and furnish other introductory matter): 

CHAPTER VI Of an Elegant Seat in the horseman. 
CHAPTER VII Of the Hands, Reins and their effects. 
CHAPTER VIII Of the Aids and Punishments necessary 

in Schooling horses. 
CHAPTER IX Of the necessity of the Trot for sup- 













pi ing young horses, and the usefulness 
of the Walk. 

Of Halts, Demi-halts and Backing. 
Of the Shoulder-in. 
Of the Croup at the wall. 
Of the usefulness of Pillars. 
Of the Passage. 

Of the changes of hands and the man- 
ner of doubling. 
Of the Gallop. 

Of Voltes, Demi- Voltes, Passades, Pirou- 
ettes and Terre-a-terres. 
Of the Airs above the ground: 

Of the Mezair. 

Of the Courbet'te. 

Of the Croupade and the Ballotade. 

Of the Caprioles. 

Of the Step-and-Jump and of the Gal- 


Of War horses. 

Of Hunters. 

Of Coach horses. 

Of Tournaments, Jousting, Carrou- 
sels, etc. 

This unadorned list, of course, does not paint a full picture. 
To have a better understanding of 1 8th-century riding the defi- 
nitions of some of the movements mentioned in the table of 
contents should be added. I shall let de la Gueriniere describe 
them in his own words, and I have chosen those movements 
which may be less familiar to some of my readers. 

"THE PASSAGE ... is a measured and cadenced walk or 
trot. In this movement the horse is obliged to hold his legs for 


a longer time in the air, one behind, the other in front, diago- 
nally as at the trot, but it should be much shorter, more sus- 
tained and more pronounced than the ordinary trot." 

"THE PIAFFER. When a horse passages in place without 
moving forward, back, or sidewise, and when he raises and 
flexes his legs high and with grace in this action, it is called 
Piaffer. This movement which is very noble and very prized in 
carrousels . . ." 

"VOLTE" ... In France the word volte signifies going side- 
ways on two tracks,, the horse [i.e. his hooves] executing two 
parallel circles or a square with round corners." 

"TERRE-A-TERRE. His Grace the Duke of Newcastle has 
well defined the Terre-a-Terre: a gallop in two beats which is 
executed along two tracks. In this action the horses raises the 
two forelegs together and puts them down in the same manner; 
the hindlegs follow and accompany the forelegs, which pro- 
duces a lively low cadance, which is like a series of little low 
jumps, close to the ground, moving always forward and to the 

"PASSADE. To execute Passades is to ride a horse back and 
forth along a specified length of ground changing at the ends 
from right to left and left to right, passing and repassing always 
on the same line. There are Passades at the little gallop and 
there are furious Passades." 

"PESADE. The Pesade is an air in which the horse, remain- 
ing in place, raises the front very high, keeping the hind legs 
firmly on the ground without advancing or moving them." 

"MfiZAIR. The Mezair is nothing more than a half- 
courbette, the movement of which is less detached from the 
ground, lower, brisker and advancing forward more than that of 
a real courbette, but also more raised and pronounced than the 

"COURBETTE. The Courbette is a jump in which the 


Airs JHT* <lt tcrrc 

L n K-/& 1 tt i 

Some Dressage movements as practiced in the 18th century. 

The Passage is a slow, highly collected and cadenced trot with accentuated 

high action. 

The Gallopade was the term for a slow, highly collected canter. 
The Volte at that time consisted of two tracks on a circle. 
The Pirouette is still a turn on the haunches at a collected canter. 

(From COLE DE CAVALERIE, by de la Gue"riniere, 1st edition, Paris, 1733.) 


horse rises higher in front in a more pronounced and more 
sustained manner than in the Mezair, and in which the hind- 
quarters strike the ground and accompany the front in an even 
cadence, low and lively, at the moment that the legs of the 
forehand return to the ground." 

"CROUPADE and BALOTADE. The Croupade and the 
Balotade are two airs that differ from each other only in the 
position of the hind legs. In the Croupade while the horse is 
in the air with all four legs, he tucks up and draws in his hind 
legs and feet under the belly without showing his shoes; and 
in the Balotade, when he is at the height of his jump he shows 
the hind feet as if he would like to kick back, as he does in 
the Capriole." 

"CAPRIOLE. The Capriole is the most elevated and the 
most perfect of all jumps. When the horse's front and hind- 
quarters are both raised in the air he kicks back vigorously, the 
hind legs at this moment are close to each other, and he ex- 
tends them as far as it is possible to stretch them; the hind feet 
during this action are raised to the height of the croup; and 
often the hocks creak from the sudden and violent extension of 
this part/ 7 

"THE STEP-AND-JUMP. This air is comprised of three 
tempos of which the first is a shortened gallop or Terre-a-Terre; 
the second a Courbette; the third a Capriole, and so forth in 

I wonder what my readers may think of these airs above the 
ground during which sometimes "the hocks creak." To me 
they are as unattractive as any other extreme physical effort, on 
the part of either horse or man. These airs, by the way, look 
better in still pictures than in actuality; the former fail to 
reveal the strain and violence of the motion. Human beings 
have an unfortunate propensity to carry anything they under- 
take beyond the sensible limit and up to the barely possible 


point of achievement. This is where horses frequently suffer. 
The human impulse behind these airs was probably very much 
the same as that which today promotes Puissance jumping and 
such gruelling cross-country tests that horses sometimes even 
die attempting them. 

Many people might be inclined to think of these High School 
movements as being those of the circus. From the ordinary lay- 
man's point of view they would be correct; for the difference 
between a movement in classical High School and that same 
movement executed in the circus may be purely one of tech- 
nique, and apparent only to the initiate. The main distinction 
lies in the fact that classical High School movements are the 
end-product of a long and consistent course of training; they 
are not taught in a vacuum. The Piaffer in High School, for 
instance, should come as the natural result of the physical dex- 
terity that the horse has acquired, while in the circus a horse 
may be taught the Piaffer without any preparatory work, as a 
trick is taught. In my time, however, I have witnessed many 
poor examples of the Piaffer in the classical manege and some- 
times seen quite good ones in the circus. The barriers between 
these two approaches to High School have been further lowered 
by the fact that at different times outstanding Dressage riders 
have found the circus a more rewarding field than the pure 
manege and have entered it. 

There are two more chapters in de la Guriniere's book 
which I would like to discuss. They concern the war horse and 
the hunter. These are short chapters, of only three and five 
pages respectively. They seem particularly short when compared 
with the chapters on such details as the "Shoulder-in" and the 
"Volte" to which four pages apiece are devoted. Evidently the 
chapters on the war horse and the hunter were mere additions 
to a book whose subject was High School. 

Almost all manege riders, from the very beginning of scho- 


lastic equitation up to our day, have tried to prove that their 
art is not only a beautiful and extremely difficult one but that 
it also has practical application. Early writers claimed, as I have 
mentioned before, that many High School movements were 
useful in war, tournaments or jousting; later ones extolled the 
practicality of the simpler parts of their method for the cavalry. 
Some of our contemporary manege riders insist that at least the 
early stages of dressage are a good preparation for jumping and 
cross-country riding. I have never been able to understand why 
dressage riders seem to feel obliged to justify their art by 
making practical claims for it. Why can't they simply practice 
art for art's sake? De la Gueriniere shared this compulsion when 
he wrote recommending his method of riding for the army: 

1 'The art of war and the art of horsemanship are reciprocally 
indebted to each other. . . . 

"The Passage, for example, makes the action of a horse that 
is at the head of a troup high and noble . . . 

"By means of Voltes one attacks the croup of the enemy and 
surrounds him diligently. . . . 

"Passades help one to go against the enemy and return 
promptly at him. . . . 

"Pirouettes and Half-Pirouettes make it easier to turn more 
swiftly in battles." 

A score of years later, the success of Frederic the Great's 
cavalry, trained both individually and in formation to cover 
rough country at a gallop, must have cast doubts on all this 
wishful thinking. And it was completely confuted soon after 
the end of the century by the Napoleonic cavalry, which had 
had no elaborate manege preparation, in the first place because 
there was no time for it and, in the second, because ideas on 
the subject had begun to change even before the French revo- 
lution. And so, with very elementary means of handling horses, 
Napoleon's cavalry "made the tour of Europe." 



One of de la Guerini^re's pupils, typically attired for an 18th century 
informal ride. (From COLE DE CAVALERIE, by de la Guerini^re, 1st edition, 
Paris, 1733.) 


I, myself, as an ex-cavalryman who participated in cavalry 
charges during the First World War and heard many on-the- 
spot accounts of others, can assure you that the success of an 
attack does not depend on refinements of equitation but rather 
on the moment being rightly chosen and on the adequate 
weight of the charge. The latter is a combination of the num- 
ber of its swords (in relation to the enemy's strength), its speed, 
and its determination to win. As to the actual hand-to-hand 
fighting, which is physical chaos and emotional and mental 
confusion, riding during it can only be of the most primitive 

De la Gueriniere's short and completely atypical chapter on 
hunting was probably written under the influence of his famil- 
iarity with the English scene. It is perhaps to the relatively dem- 
ocratic basis of English society, hence to the popularity of racing, 
that we paradoxically owe the high standards of modern horse- 
breeding. For High School was the product of a rigidly strati- 
fied society which had the leisure to savour refinements and 
was more interested in the quality of an elaborate performance 
than in what horse might have won by a nose. Moreover, even 
connoisseurs' tastes differed, and there was no such simple and 
clear-cut test of the animal's capacities as on the turf. Breeding 
in this field could hardly hope to keep up with that in racing 
circles. In 1607 English race horses had already been imported 
into France and "in 1673 Sir William Temple met a French 
buyer who had purchased twenty horses in Ireland for the 
French army at from twenty to sixty pounds apiece." (W. Ridge- 
HORSE, 1905). 

It is no wonder that de la Gu6riniere knew the English horse 
and admired it. After pointing out that it is really nature that 
produces great gallopers by giving them good shoulders he says: 


"English horses more than any other European ones have this 
quality; . . . English hunters are often out for a whole day 
without being unbridled and always on the tail of the hounds 
in their fox hunting, jumping hedges and ditches which can 
be found in a country as populous and cut-up as England." 

As for riding to hounds, de la Gueriniere suggests that both 
the trot and the gallop of a hunter should be more "extended 
than raised." He also says that during the "hunting gallop" 
the rider "should not insist on the position of the head, on the 
principle of keeping it perpendicular from the forehead to 
the tip of the nose, as in manege horses; the hunter should be 
given more liberty, so that he can breath and open his nostrils." 

In this chapter de la Gueriniere also makes a suggestion 
which would be approved by any modern trainer of cross- 
country horses: 

"When one begins to gallop a horse destined for hunting, 
one should not first ask a fast gallop; because he is not yet in 
the habit of galloping freely, he will lean on the hands; but 
neither should one ask a collected gallop, which will prevent 
him from using himself as he should; but he should be main- 
tained in a united gallop, without restraining him nor pushing 
him forward, as. he would gallop by himself without being 
mounted." (The italics are mine.) 

These ideas which had unconsciously been put into practice 
by English squires are particularly interesting in view of the 
fact that somewhat later similar ones, but much expanded, were 
advocated by many educated continental horsemen. In this re- 
spect parts of de la Gueriniere's text foreshadow the future. 
Unfortunately the harmonious effect of the chapter is spoiled 
by some unnecessary manege riding advice and by the insignifi- 
cance of what de la Gueriniere says about jumping. The latter 
evidently did not interest him at all, and he disposes of the 



Courtesy of the Earl of Yarborough 

English fox hunters of the 18th century. 

The horses are ridden in plain snaffles, and they undoubtedly will be 
permitted to keep their necks extended at all gaits and on the jump. 
When the hands and the legs of these riders interfere with their horses it 
is not because of a desire on the part of the horsemen to execute finer 
control, but simply through failure to maintain a good position in "the 

The greater freedom and initiative given to the horse in this type of 
riding when compared with contemporary continental equitation are 
closer in spirit to today's attitude than the rigid control that the latter 
demanded. (From GEORGE STUBBS AND BEN MARSHALL, by Walter Shaw 
Sparrow. Pub. by Gassel and Co. Ltd., London, and by Charles Scribner's 
Sons, New York, in 1929.) 

subject by repeating, in eighteen lines, what de la Broue had 
said one hundred and forty years earlier. Here is his text on 
the subject in full: 

"The quality that a hunter should possess is to jump hedges 
and ditches so as not to stop in his tracks when such obstacles 
are encountered. Monsieur de la Broue gives a lesson on the 
subject which I believe to be practical and good. Take a wattle 


fence about 3' to 4' wide and 10' to 12' long; lay it first on 
the ground, and make the horse jump it at a walk, at a trot 
and then at a gallop: and if he puts his feet on the wattle, in- 
stead of jumping it, punish him with a whip and spurs. Then 
raise the wattle about one foot and as the horse jumps it freely, 
raise it more and more up to its full height; then trim it with 
branches and leaves. This method, which he [de la Broue] says 
he often practiced, certainly teaches a horse to extend and 
lengthen himself for jumping over hedges and ditches, but this 
lesson, which is necessary for a military horse and for a hunter 
should not be used until he obediently turns in both directions 
and not until his head is set and his mouth accepts the bit." 

To me, and probably to you, this almost complete disregard 
of jumping is disappointing, but de la Gu&riniere is not really 
at fault; he merely represents the attitude of his century. No- 
body at the time was seriously interested in negotiating 

Jumping, as anything else, must attract interest and furnish 
competition before its standards can be raised to those of an 
art. With jumping this has happened only during my life- 
time. To be sure, some interest, although quite unscientific, 
was manifested in it as early as the year 1800 by the English. 
The great master in this field, however, was to come from 
another nation. 


The Last of the Old Regime 

In the previous chapter I indicated that during the 18th cen- 
tury manege riding reached a point of great sophistication, and 
that on the whole this type of riding, already traditional, was 
characteristic of the time. But history does not move in a logical 
fashion and at an even pace in a single direction. More often 
than not various new tendencies and innovations, appearing 
side by side with the popular trend, break the uniformity of 
the period. Some of these departures from the main current, 
impractical or premature, perish soon after they are born; 
others survive and grow to start a new era. These eras in the 
history of riding, or in any history, seldom correspond exactly 
to the reign of the king whose name they carry, nor do they 
begin or end precisely with the century. Equestrian thinking 
in the 18th century did not concentrate exclusively on the old 
manege of display; occasionally it deviated. In several respects 
developments typical of the 1 9th century had their roots in the 
18th. Thus before the year 1800 dawned a new pragmatic ap- 
proach to riding had made its appearance. Although it became 
particularly prominent in France in Napoleonic times, its ori- 
gin can be traced to Germany and England. 

When Frederick the Great ascended the Prussian throne in 
1740 he remarked that his "cavalry is not even worth the devil 
coming to fetch it away." This was a cavalry trained on the 


principles of manege riding. With the help of two of his cavalry 
generals, Seydlitz and Zieten, both of them original thinkers, 
Frederick retrained his mounted troops so as to be able to fight 
rather than to parade. Work in the manege was largely reduced 
(although collection was still preserved) and replaced by gal- 
loping in the field, both individually and in close formation. 
One of Frederick's favorite sayings was that "one who cannot 
gallop for a long time is useless as a rider." As a result of this 
training, at least fifteen out of twenty-two battles were won 
by Frederick's army, thanks to the cavalry's acting in close co- 
operation with artillery and infantry. The achievements of the 
Prussian cavalry in the Seven Years War (1756-1763) made a 
great impression on the continent, and aroused doubts among 
many officers concerning the old manege equitation. 

You will remember that parts of de la Gueriniere's chapter 
on hunting were written under the influence of the achieve- 
ments of this sport across the channel. Only a generation later, 
in 1762, a little book, written by Henry, Earl of Pembroke, 
was published in London. It was entitled A METHOD OF BREAK- 
USE OF THE ARMY. Forty years later an English riding teacher, 
John Adams, wrote about this book: 

"Another small tract I have seen, wrote by the Earl of Pem- 
broke. This his lordship intended solely for the use of the army. 
It contains only a few general rules, absolutely necessary for 
the discipline of the cavalry. His lordship, knowing the aversion 
a soldier has to study, and the shallowness of the common sol- 
dier's capacity, most certainly thought that much would never 
be attended to, though the little he wrote might." True enough; 
Pembroke's is a very small and unimportant book, but it repre- 
sents the appearance of ideas which have little in common with 
de la Gueriniere's chapter on "War Horses." I would like to 
quote some of them: 


"It would scarce be possible (neither is it at all necessary) to 
teach the many more difficult and refined parts of horseman- 
ship, to the different kinds and dispositions, both of men and 
horses, which one meets with in a regiment; or to give the time 
and attention, required for it, to such numbers. . . . 

"This lesson of the paule en dedans [shoulder-in] I would 
only have taught to such people, as are likely to become useful 
in helping to teach men and to break horses . . . none others 
should ever be suffered upon any occasion to let their horses 
look any way, besides the way they are going, which is a very 
rare thing now to be seen in most regiments . . . 

"However highly I approve of pillars, I would on no ac- 
count admit of any, unless constantly under the eye and atten- 
tion of a very intelligent teacher; which is a thing so difficult 
to be found in regiments, that I think pillars are better 
banished from amongst them. . . ." 

The above excerpts should be sufficient to make it clear that 
the Earl of Pembroke, although a follower of the French school 
(he even uses the French word for shoulder-in) was practical 
enough to suggest its considerable simplification for the army. 

The next similar move in the same direction was made in 
France itself, by another practical man of Scottish origin who 
served in the French army. This was Count Drummond de 
Melfort, Inspector-general of the Light Cavalry. He published 
his book, TRAITE SUR LA CAVALERIE, in Paris in 1776. The 
short list of subscribers to the book contains only sixty-three 
names, all but six of which are titled the revolution was still 
thirteen years away. This thick and very beautiful folio is 
primarily concerned with cavalry maneuvers; only about sixty 
pages are devoted to horsemanship. In these one finds such 
sensible statements as the following: 

"I am of the opinion that, providing a rider knows how to 
make his horse go forward, to make it stop when he wishes, 


to make it back, turn to the right and the left, walk, trot and 
gallop, this is precisely all he should know; ... I repeat that 
I believe, that one should not push instruction in the art of 
riding too far and that one should preferably stick to working 
in formation/' 

De Melfort did not seek to change the precepts of classical 
riding, he merely abridged its practice in view of the special 
circumstances in the army. In this respect he and the Earl 
of Pembroke were alike, and far ahead, of course, of de la 
Gu<riniere and his conservative followers. But collected gaits, 
halts that put the horse down on his hocks, shoulder-in, croup- 
to-the-wall, etc., still had place in Count de Melfort' s book 
as cornerstones of equitation. As to jumping, like de la 
Gueriniere he repeats what de la Broue had said long before, 
adding only a few insignificant remarks of his own. The fact 
that the first men to abridge the full program of manege riding 
did so especially for the army is of particular significance, since 
in the next century educated riding was to be primarily mili- 
tary, and civilians were to imitate it. 

Count de Melfort was not the only French cavalry officer of 
the period who wrote about the necessity of simplifying and 
adapting manege equitation for the army; there were others. 
Thus, for instance, in a book which was printed the same year 
as de Melfort's, Mercier Dupaty de Clam wrote: 

"The military horse is ordinarily used only for fast work; 
hence it is necessary to school him to go forward and not 
to give him a slow, shortened pace which does not move ahead. 
Parade horses are the only ones that should possess this showi- 

A few years earlier he was telling soldiers in his company 

" Manege horses are good only for hacking and for the occa- 
sions when brilliance is necessary; few people are in a position 


to have horses especially for parades, and, furthermore, only 
a few know how to complete their schooling/' 

In one more thing Dupaty de Clam anticipated the following 
century: in trying to put riding on a solidly scientific founda- 
tion. He went so far as to explain equitation by geometry and 
physics, and produced works, "learned and conscientious, but 
often obscure and, more often still, boring/' (EssAiE DE BIBLIO- 
GRAPHIE HIPPIQUE, by General Mennessier de La Lance, pub. 
by Lucien Dorbon, Paris, 1915-1921). 

There was also, at the end of the 18th century, the Chevalier 
de Boisdeffre who already made a distinction as well for the 
hunter: ''There is a difference between schooling a manege 
horse or making one for hunting or for war. The latter needs 
only to be prepared for movement forward; his gaits should be 
only free ones and the development of his strength is half the 
job; in all he requires far less exactness." 

Thus the 19th century trends in equitation really started 
before the year 1800. The century proper began in Europe 
with Napoleonic campaigns which turned old-fashioned ideas 
on riding upside down; but this temporary upheaval also 
started a few years earlier in 1789, with the French revolution. 
The Count d'Aure, writing close to the middle of the 19th 
century, described this significant period: 

"When the revolution came, equitation suffered cruelly; of 
all the arts it was the one to suffer the most. Its sanctuary at 
Versailles, supported by royal munificence, disappeared with 
royalty. The other schools fell away also and our horsemen 
became exiles or found refuge in military camps. 

"When France, after a long period of anarchy, became mili- 
tary, she felt the necessity of organizing the cavalry, and re- 
established a school. Versailles was destined to educate our 
cavalry. It was no longer the academic manege of the past, 
which was suffered to preserve the old traditions while making 


progress; it was now only a question of hurriedly educating 
instructors for our regiments. 

"Jardin and Coupe [instructors], as all horsemen, knew 
very well that the more freedom is given to the horse and the 
less is demanded of him the less one provokes resistances. The 
use of the hands and legs, necessary when one needs it to 
collect a horse and to master him, is that much more dangerous 
when employed by people who may not be familiar with its 

"Riding at this period consisted, with few exceptions, in per- 
mitting horses to go freely. Once secure in his saddle the rider 
learned, often as much by instinct as by precept, how to control 
his horse; closing in his legs to make it go forward, pulling 
on the bridle to stop it or diminish the speed; when the horse 
was going more or less as he wished he let the reins float. 
The substance of almost all the lessons given at this period 
was to say: stop and yield; it was simply a question of stopping 
on time and yielding at the right moment. Since the riders had 
neither the time nor the ability to supple their horses nor to 
put them on their haunches, and horses were left to themselves 
to a considerable extent, they remained in balance as well as 
they could but assumed each time and in every situation the 
position that was the most suitable to their physique. It was 
with such 'an unscholarly education, in which instinct often 
took care of everything, that our armies made the tour of 
Europe/' (Count d'Aure, TRAITE D'QUITATION.) 

However, as I have said before, the over-all equestrian picture 
of the second half of the 18th century was far from being 
uniform. The High School of de la Gueriniere still found 
both partisans and occasions for application. But, significantly 
enough, its specialized character was beginning to be recognized 
even by its masters. Thus a German, the Baron de Sind, wrote 
in 1762: 


* 'Those horses destined only for public functions should be 
exercised only at the Passage and the Courbette so that they 
will not mix them with other airs. 

"I gave my master the Elector of Cologne a dapple-grey 
horse to ride on the day of the coronation of his brother Charles 
VII in Frankfort. The magnificence of the imperial procession 
attracted an immense number of spectators. The whole cortege 
moved at the passage, but the attitude of the horse ridden by 
the elector was the most effective of all. He continued to exe- 
cute the passage from the Romer to the church and, on the 
return trip, from the church to the Romer without losing a 
beat. Moved by a brave and noble pride, he adorned his action 
with two or three courbettes after a few steps of passage, and 
by alternating the two movements at appropriate intervals he 
was the admiration of all Frankfort/' (L'ART DE MANAGE.) 

Although in France the requirements of military prepared- 
ness made it imperative to simplify riding for the army, in 
England manege riding from its introduction met civilian 
opposition from the hunting squires and from the gentlemen 
whose pleasure was racing. Occasionally there appeared in 
England a master of classical equitation who taught the com- 
plete manege, including High School. But even some of these 
were obliged to make concessions and to admit that manege 
riding might not be the answer to better riding in all branches 
of horsemanship. One of these teachers, John Adams, who 
worked at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th 
centuries, wrote a book, AN ANALYSIS OF HORSEMANSHIP, pub- 
lished in London in 1805, from which I quote: 

"How strange . . . that the art of riding and managing horses 
should be so much neglected, that very few, indeed, know ox 
think that any such art exists. ... I believe it will be found 
to originate, for the most part, in the masters themselves. For 
certain it is, masters of old taught only one style of riding, 


which was the manege. . . . The obvious consequence is, that 
gentlemen are as emulous of riding fast, as of riding well; 
and finding persons who learned to ride in a style so ill 
calculated to travel far, or fast, or endure its fatigue; they 
ridiculed the idea of learning to ride at a school, but preserved, 
or sought to copy, a hunting groom, or racing-jockey. 

"Nevertheless, the study and knowledge of the manege has 
many advantages; for you are not confined to ride in the 
manege style when you find it most convenient to ride in any 
other; and certainly, if you ride fast long distances, or a hunt- 
ing, the manege style is not calculated for your own ease, or 
that of the horse. But whenever you adopt the proper style 
for these extended paces and suffer the horse to take a support 
and ascendency of the hands, you can, when you find it neces- 
sary, more readily recover the superiority of the hand than 
those who are totally ignorant of the science." 

Adams' conviction of the superiority of classical dressage was 
very strong; he ends his book with a description of how to 
school a horse to execute such movements as the Capriole, 
Balotade, etcj. But at the same time he admits, as previously 
mentioned, that there are other forms of equitation. Con- 
sequently he devotes many pages to a seat especially designed 
for hunting. He was also, I believe, the first one to present 
the technique of jumping at any length (12 pages). Thus he 
was more advanced in his thinking than either the Earl of 
Pembroke or Count Drummond de Melfort, who changed 
nothing but merely abridged the program of the old school. 

Adams' description of the hunting seat contains amazingly 
modern ideas; as a matter of fact, he can be considered a 
precursor of Caprilli, who developed the Forward Seat one 
hundred years later. Out of some twenty pages on the hunting 
seat I shall select certain phrases and assemble them so that 
you will immediately recognize the modern Forward Seat. 


Adams does not actually connect these points in an orderly 
fashion, nor has he any logical explanations for them. Further- 
more, he includes opposite and contradictory points among his 
sound ones. But however vague his description may be, it is the 
first appearance in print of some of the basic ideas of the 
Forward Seat. 

". . . the hunting seat is that of riding in the stirrups, . . . 
the intention of this style of riding is ... to relieve yourself 
from that friction and heat which the bottom would receive 
from such strong and continued gallop, if seated close down 
on the saddle ... the first thing to be considered is the length 
of the stirrups, which must not be too short, though somewhat 
shorter than what was recommended for military or road- 
riding. . . . When the horseman is raised in the stirrups he 
must have a forward inclination from about twenty to forty- 
five degrees short of a perpendicular, as the rider shall find most 
pleasant and convenient for himself; but whether the body has 
a great or small inclination the position, otherwise must be 
the same as when upright; that is the breast open, the shoulders 
down, the back hollow, the head firm . . , when you ride in 
the stirrups (I do not mean under the toe, as you may Ho 
in manege-riding without inconvenience) under the ball of the 
foot, you have the play of the instep, which acts as a spring, as 
does also the knee, and the joints, next below the hip, which 
save the body from a great part of the roughness which the 
action of the horse occasions. ... If you find it necessary you 
may turn your toes out a little to strengthen your hold . . . 
and when the thighs are not sufficient then the legs are applied, 
which is a deeper and stronger hold . . . the hands must be kept 

This seat Adams intended for the gallop only. He did not 
go so far as to work it out for the jump. This privilege was 
reserved for Federico Caprilli who, around the year 1900, con- 


ceived a completely new method of riding and schooling horses 
(field horses and jumpers) of which the Forward Seat was an 
integral part. It is interesting to note that Adams approached 
his seat from the point of view of the rider's comfort, while 
Caprilli did it from that of the horse's. 

Caprilli's method today is sometimes called the "Natural 
Method/' because it is based on the natural, ordinary move- 
ments of a calm horse. This idea also can be traced to the 
18th century. Baron de Bohan, then a Captain in the French 
cavalry, wrote in 1781: 

". . . Nothing is so dangerous as an ignorant artist. He makes 
mistakes methodically and goes stubbornly astray: of such are 
the great majority of those who make a business of schooling 
horses; they are, for the most part, incapable of giving correct 
definitions of the simplest operations in the art they profess. 
One has only to open our treatises on equitation to find nature 
everywhere coerced and contradicted, how many horses have 
been crippled or worn out before one has been found capable 
of executing the antics that Newcastle and de la Guerinire 
have described for us under the baroque names of passades, 
terre- a-terre, pesades, mezair, balotade, etc. It is this meticulous 
jargon that I particularly intend to avoid in my school; the 
horses will learn no artificial gaits and I will apply all the 
resources of art to perfect those which nature has given them." 
are mine.) 

In two other respects characteristic elements of the 19th cen- 
tury were foreshadowed in the 18th. For one thing, attempts at 
a scientific analysis of the mechanics of the horse's movements 
were then first made. Baron de Bohan, whom I have just 
quoted, suggested in his book that the horse does not move 
solely by the muscular efforts of the legs, but that the loss of 
equilibrium to the front plays an important part in locomo- 



In the course of the 18th centry, the horse's anatomy was studied in 
greater detail than ever before. This knowledge was one of the factors 
which later permitted horsemen to attempt to give riding a scientific basis. 

Of the books on this subject, the COURS D'HIPPIATRIQUE, published in 
1772 by a French veterinarian, Philippe E. Lafosse, is by far the most 
sumptuous. It was said to have cost the author 70,000 French livres to 
print it. 

This book is profusely illustrated by plates of the high quality of the 
one here reproduced. It is characteristic of the 18th century that science 
had not yet began to depict the objects of its study in a severely clinical 
fashion, but considered that they should be as pleasingly and decoratively 
presented as possible. (From the COURS D'HIPPIATRIQUE, by Philippe E. 
Lafosse, Paris, 1772.) 

tion. On this basis a theory of how the horse should be 
schooled to acquire a good balance under the weight of the 
rider was later evolved. This theory forms the foundation of 
today's Forward Schooling, which I shall describe later in this 


book. Speculative thinking about the horse's locomotion was to 
continue throughout the 19th century, particularly in France, 
and a most important step forward was to be made in the 
United States during the seventies and eighties by Eadweard 
Maybridge's photographic study of the horse's and other 
animals' movements. 

In the second place, the High School in England, lacking the 
support of the royal court and of wealthy sponsors, began to 
play a paramount role in the program of the circus. This 
position, first assumed in the 18th century, was maintained 
through the 19th throughout Europe. 

The English circus became important and popular for the 
first time under Philip Astley (d. 1814), who kept a circus in 
London at the end of the 18th century. Ducrow succeeded 
Astley in this field and established the circus tradition. It was 
only much later that the mammoth three-ring American 
circus with its emphasis on large-scale performances, relegated 
individual equestrian feats to the background. In none of 
today's circuses are the traditions of the father of the modern 
circus, Astley, maintained. His amphitheatre was primarily a 
combination of riding-school and music hall, and it preserved 
much of the old dignity of horsemanship. 

Like his illustrious predecessors, the court High School riders, 
Astley practiced Pesade, Capriole, Croupade, etc. And like 
them, he tried to sell his method (at least the simpler parts 
of it) to amateur riders and, of course, to army officers. In this 
respect his ambition was that of the great circus riders of the 
succeeding century. This is what he wrote in his ASTLEY'S 
SYSTEM OF EQUESTRIAN EDUCATION, published in London, in 
about 1800: 

"It is a known fact that many gentlemen have purchased 
commissions in the cavalry, merely because they could ride 
a fox-chase, or horse-race; but a little actual DASHING SERV- 



The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

The frequent attendance made possible by a permanent circus, and 
the excellent visibility of the small, intimate arena, in which the audi- 
ence's interest was concentrated on one act at a time, combined to produce 
a group of circus-going connoisseurs who knew what they were looking at. 
These circuses could afford to pay great High School riders, and the riders 
were aware that they were performing before a discriminating public. 
This is how the best circus High School of the 19th century could come 
to be of very high calibre. (Astley's Amphitheatre [circus] from Pugin and 
Rowlandson's Aquatint in Ackerman's Microcosm of London, 1810.) 

ICE in the field of honor soon convinced them of the necessity 
of being taught to ride on pure scientific principles, and under 
able professors/' 

In ending the period of early dressage riding it may not be 
amiss to summarize in a few words the course it followed for 
almost 250 years, up to the time of the French revolution. 


Starting during the transition from the Middle Ages to the 
Renaissance it followed the elaborate forms of the succeeding 
periods and served kings and their nobles for entertainment 
and parade. Cruel in its practices at first, it was ameliorated 
considerably as the accumulation of knowledge made more 
refined techniques possible. However, requiring the horse to 
perform in a more artificial manner than any animal was 
capable of doing with ease, remained characteristic of High 
School to the end of the period. This form of equitation 
remained supreme as long as kings and nobles ruled Europe, 
and had the means to employ this elaborate riding to ornament 
their lives. 

Towards the end of the period, in the second half of the 
18th century, increased emphasis on efficiency in warfare com- 
pelled armies to simplify riding and to take it out-doors. After 
this, pure manege riding, while still practiced by many, ceased 
to be the universal ideal. A reasoned approach to riding began 
to be applied not only to the manege horse but to the trooper's 
horse and the hunter, and there was appreciation of their spe- 
cial problems. 

At about the same time a popular increase in interest in 
science resulted in the first attempts to base equitation on 
physical laws. This attitude was to develop considerably during 
the next two centuries. Curiously enough, this very learned ap- 
proach was seconded by the absolutely unscholastic riding of 
the English who, in their empirical fashion, followed many 
laws of nature. The English success in cross-country riding 
was noted by continental horsemen, and the means by which 
it was achieved were at least taken into consideration. 

All these elements of the equestrian scene will continue to 
struggle against each other throughout the next century, and 
it is only in our time that new principles, much developed and 
improved, will actually begin to win out over the old-fashioned 


ones. The riding world has always been a conservative one, and 
it has always taken a long time for a brand-new idea to be 
generally accepted. One of the reasons for this is the fact that 
practically nothing in riding is black or white, and that a really 
talented horseman can often successfully school a good horse by 
highly unorthodox or old-fashioned means. 

Another interesting thing that occurred at the end of the 
18th century was the appearance, at a high level of riding, 
of men from nowhere, like Astley. Significantly enough it first 
happened in relatively democratic England; after the French 
revolution riders of simple origin, who were destined to be- 
come great, also appeared on the continent. These new men, 
who had to look for new fields in which to display their talents, 
discovered the circus. Supreme High School in a circus was 
something new in the history of the "noble art." But in the 
19th century some of the horsemen in this field were to 
advance High School to new and unparalleled heights. These 
men, fighting for a better place in life, had to progress or 
go into oblivion, and so they produced a modern 19th century 
High School as opposed to the old Classical High School which 
had remained practically static since the days of de la Guer- 
iniere. Thus High School, which had moved from the circus 
to the royal court, after two hundred and fifty years found 
itself once more in its old home. 

In many ways the second half of the 18th century was the 
beginning of a new era. 



Baucher Versus D'Aure 

I have described how, in France during the Napoleonic 
regime, the necessities of war simplified military riding to 
bare essentials. It took time for France to return to normal 
(whatever this may mean) and up to the end of the period 
called the Restoration (the restoration of the Bourbons, 1814- 
1830) riding remained much as it had been under Napoleon. 
But as soon as the new order had settled down, and military 
schools again had had time to begin to give a thorough training 
to future cavalry officers, equitation once more took on an 
educated form. This is where the struggle started between two 
schools of thought one that emphasized manege dressage and 
another that promoted cross-counry riding. The great leader of 
the first movement was Francois Baucher; that of the latter, 
an equally great man, the Count d'Aure. 

Educated riding was now represented by the peacetime army, 
which supported the restored but much-diminished royal 
throne. It was natural that cavalry officers under these condi- 
tions should feel nostalgic for the days of splendid courts and 
should wish to revive the manege riding and equestrian tradi- 
tions of the previous century. This sentiment made it possible 
for Baucher, a circus High School rider of great talent, and 
an energetic promoter of his own method, eventually to be- 
come the chief spokesman for the century. "Baucherism" is 


still remembered. On the other hand, the Count d'Aure's ideas, 
while less followed in the mid- 19th century, were closer to 
those which would obtain fifty years later. Riding in France 
during the Restoration period, which was the background for 
the work of both Baucher and the Count d'Aure, was thus 
described by the latter: 

"When the Restoration came and peace promised to be 
durable, the youth of the country, trying to give themselves 
martial airs, copied everything that was military. Since our 
officers had got into the habit of riding with dangling reins 
[i.e. during the Napoleonic wars], all the young people thought 
it was the thing to do to ride with their legs forward to an 
absurd degree, and to let their horses go loose. 

"Then there appeared a vigorous and energetic form of 
riding, quite unscholarly, perhaps, but in harmony with the 
tastes of the period. Tournaments and carrousels, where horses 
had paraded with forceful, shortened movements, having been 
replaced by racing, hunting and steeplechasing, those principles 
[i.e. scholarly ones] which seemed only to make the horses 
hesitant could not be appreciated by our young people. 

"The majority of the teachers rigidly opposed the change 
that was taking place. They only modified the useless move- 
ments of manege equitation, and remained faithful to col- 
lected movements; they did not demonstrate ways of develop- 
ing speed, and left their pupils under the illusion that the 
surest way to attain speed was to close in the legs and yield 
with the hands. On the one hand, they lost all the prestige 
that a brilliant execution of the old forceful High School airs 
brought with it, on the other they inspired little confidence 
in pupils who were learning from experience that to make a 
horse bold and to develop speed one should, on the contrary, 
give support to the horse's mouth, etc. From now on all the 
young people ceased to have faith in the manege and tried to 


fly with their own wings. Consequently, they produced a riding 
of their own, which consisted in negotiating obstacles, in 
making a bold horse, without bothering otherwise whether 
he was correct or incorrect, properly placed or not, straight or 

"This very natural, very bold equitation, once it came into 
fashion, only asked to be regularized by principles/' (TRAITE 
D'EQUITATION, 3rd edition, 1847.) 

Under these circumstances, Baucher and d'Aure began to 
develop their two very different methods. 

Francois Baucher was born in 1796. His equestrian education 
started at fifteen, with lessons from one of his uncles, a pro- 
fessional horseman. Later he studied horsemanship in the 
principle schools of France, then worked in one of them, and 
finally opened a riding school of his own in Rouen. At the 
age of thirty-eight he became a partner in a Paris riding school. 
While teaching there he exhibited his High School horses for 
ten consecutive years in the circus of the Champs-filysees, and 
his outstanding performances earned him the reputation of a 
great master. 

Possessing unusual talent, both as a trainer and as a rider, 
Baucher taught his horses High School for circus performances 
in incredibly little time. Only in rare cases did it take him 
more than a year to prepare a horse for public exhibition, 
while most of his horses performed in public after only a few 
months of schooling. His outstanding achievements in this 
respect were Gericault, schooled in twenty-seven days, and 
Kleber, schooled in one month; the latter feat was done on 
a bet. 

The army became interested in Baucher's method and in 
1842 twenty-six cavalry officers were studying in Paris under 
him. At the same time his son was instructing another group of 
officers in the provinces. The next year Baucher, with his son, 



(Top) Baucher, on Capitaine making an abrupt halt. 

(Bottom) Baucher, on Capitaine making what he termed a Pesade. 
(From SOUVENIRS QUESTRES, by F. Baucher; reproduced from JOURNAL DE 
DRESSAGE, by James Fillis, Paris, 1903.) 


was invited to the Cavalry School of Saumur to give a demon- 
stration course. It was then that he succeeded in arousing great 
enthusiasm among the officers and in converting many to his 
method. Soon afterwards, however, a special commission of 
officers, formed to consider his system, pronounced an unfavor- 
able verdict and rejected it for the army. About this episode 
Baucher wrote in the preface to his book, METHODE D'QUITA- 
TION: ". . . my works were translated into several languages, 
and everywhere amateurs and intelligent army officers adopted 
my principles. I have already related what prevented my method 
from being introduced into the French Cavalry, in spite of 
the unanimous decision of the officers consulted. Let my pen 
be silent on the sad past." 

Baucher continued his private teaching and his regular work 
in the circus. He exhibited his horses in Berlin, Vienna, Venice, 
Milan, etc., and, of course, always in Paris. In 1855, as he was 
about to mount a green mare he was schooling, the circus 
chandelier fell on him. He escaped death, but his right leg 
was smashed, and he never rode for an audience again. Yet 
until 1870 that is, three years before his death he con- 
tinued to ride mornings during the training of the circus 
horses which were still in his charge. 

Baucher devoted his life to the creation of a new and better 
method of riding. Even on his death-bed he took hold of the 
hand of his pupil, General L'Hotte and, setting it in the 
proper position and squeezing it strongly said, "Always do 
this, never bring your hand back to your body when attempting 
to restrain a horse." 

While Baucher was the first great French master of equita- 
tion to come from the common people, his chief opponent, the 
Count Antoine-Henri d'Aure (1799-1863), was born of an 
aristocratic family and started his life accordingly. Graduating 
from the military school of St. Cyr as a lieutenant at the age 
of sixteen, d'Aure joined the Royal Body Guards, and became 


attached to the Royal Manege of Versailles. When the school 
of Versailles was closed in 1830, he retired from the army and 
opened his own riding school in Paris. 

The Count d'Aure believed that in horses "the qualities 
which blood produces come to our aid for the simplification of 
equitation, because nature gives a well-bred horse flexibility, 
suppleness and, above all, energy, which horsemen of former 
days did not always find in their horses." (A consideration on 
which today's Forward Schooling is largely based.) Conse- 
quently, at his school he organized an association for the im- 
provement of French breeds. One of his pupils at this time was 
the Duke of Nemours, later an influential member of that 
commission of cavalry officers that rejected Baucher's method. 
In 1847 d'Aure was appointed chief instructor to the cavalry 
school of Saumur; but this victory over Baucher lasted only a 
few years, and he retired in 1854 when "Baucherism" had 
definitely gained ground. D'Aure's last job was that of chief 
inspector of the national breeding establishments. 

While at Saumur the Count d'Aure encouraged hunting, 
racing and cross-country training. He himself could always 
serve as an example of a strong, courageous, bold rider in the 
field. His old teacher, the Chevalier d'Abzac, frequently said 
of him that he would always be a "break-neck." By the way, 
the moment he retired from Saumur, hunting which he intro- 
duced without official authorization was prohibited. 

As a matter of comparison, it may be interesting to quote 
what James Fillis wrote about Baucher: "The fact is that 
Baucher never rode outside. Without being his pupil, I fol- 
lowed and studied him during his journeys to Australia, Italy, 
Switzerland, etc. from 1847 to 1850. But during these three 
years I never saw him go outside on horseback." (BREAKING 
AND RIDING, second edition, 1911, Hurst and Blackett, Ltd.) 

General Mennessier de la Lance in his ESSAI DE BIBLI- 


OGRAPHIE HIPPIQUE (Lucien Dorbon, 1915), from which the 
above biographical notes were partly taken, says: "there exist 
several portraits of Count cTAure. Ledieu painted two. One of 
them represents him jumping a ditch. I used to have it . . ." 
A portrait of Baucher jumping anything, and in the fields, 
would be highly unlikely. 

The clash between the personalities and the methods of 
Baucher and d'Aure resulted in many arguments in print, not 
only between themselves but between their respective followers; 
it even occasioned several duels. 

At first d'Aure often went to the circus to watch Baucher 
ride, and afterwards always held short but polite conversations 
with him. On the other hand, Baucher saw the Count d'Aure 
mounted only once, when he went to see d'Aure ride, on the 
pretext of buying a horse. The experiment resulted in an 
argument which soon became violent, and the two horsemen 
parted, never to see each other again. 

Today people who oppose the modern method of schooling 
jumpers and hunters often say that there is nothing new in 
equitation, and that there is nothing to add to the old art. 
This feeling, however, was never shared by the great dressage 
riders of the past. The men who took part in developing the 
art of riding were all innovators, and said they were. Baucher's 
attitude toward his work, as well as the attitude of his con- 
temporaries toward his accomplishments, serve as perfect 
illustrations of this fact. 

The 14th (1874) edition of Baucher's, METHODE D'EQUITA- 
TION, starts with a chapter entitled, "The Latest Innovations.'* 
In it he says: 

"During the forty years that I have occupied myself with the 
art of schooling horses I have always understood that the 
unique problem to be resolved by the trainer was to perfect 
the natural balance of the horse, and my whole life's efforts 


have had no other aim but to make the problem simpler. Each 
of the thirteen editions of the method is distinguished by prog- 
ress which makes the trainer's work easier. . . ." (The italics are 

It is interesting to note that even after three hundred years 
of educated riding the matter of the balance of the horse 
in motion remained an open question. As a matter of fact, 
Baucher himself, in spite of his claims, never solved this prob- 
lem theoretically, although in practice he knew how to obtain 
the artificial balance that goes together with full collection. 

In the same book Baucher lists the "innovations" which he 
introduced into the art of riding. Among these are sixteen new 
manege movements, such as instantaneous transitions from the 
slow to the fast Piaffe, trotting backwards, cantering backwards, 
etc. He also enumerates thirty improvements in the technique 
of manege riding. Some in the latter category were considered 
by Baucher to be basic to his system. Here are a few of them: 

"The distinction between instinctive and imparted forces of 
the horse [imparted by the rider]. 

"The abolition of the instinctive forces of the horse and 
their substitution by the forces transmitted by the rider. 

"The definition of true collection and the means of obtain- 
ing it. 

"The means of supplying the lower jaw, the neck, the loins 
and the croup [mostly in hand]." 

Baucher claimed that working on the basis of these princi- 
ples led to all horses being supple in the mouth, neck, loins and 
back; to their being all light in hand at the three gaits; to 
giving them a regular walk, and a united, extended or 
cadenced trot; to reining back as easily as moving forward; to 
an easy gallop, and to every degree of collection. 

Some of the horsemen of the century were doubtful about 
Baucher's claim that his method would work wonders with 


all horses, while others were very much impressed by the re- 
sults obtained by Baucher himself. 

"... I wish to say that both officers and non-commissioned 
officers unanimously approve Baucher's procedure for schooling 
young horses. In fifteen days Monsieur Baucher obtains better 
results than those obtained in six months by the old methods." 
(Correlet, Colonel of Paris' Municipal Guard.) 

"Monsieur Baucher's antagonists wish to present him as an 
imitator of Pignatel, Pluvinel, Newcastle, etc. But did these 
famous horsemen, while preaching suppleness and equilibrium, 
ever teach a theory as clear, as precise, and as well-reasoned 
as Baucher's? No." (de Novital, Commander of the Saumur 
Cavalry School) 

Baucher's method, based on his novel principles, can be 
summed up as follows: two forces combine to produce the 
horse's movement weight and muscular effort. The first is 
passive, the second active. If the latter is used by a horse of 
his own will, Baucher calls it instinctive force, while if the 
muscular action is produced at the will of the rider, he calls 
this force imparted. In the first case the rider is dominated by 
the horse; in the second the horse becomes an instrument in 
the rider's hands. Once the horse has been mounted he should 
move only as a result of imparted force. Consequently, the first 
aim of the rider is to "destroy the instinctive forces" and the 
second is "to replace the instinctive forces by imparted ones." 
Thus Baucher began his schooling by completely abolishing 
the horse's instinctive forces and will, and only after accom- 
plishing this did he begin to build a completely new structure 
upon this void. To achieve this, Baucher, by his new combined 
effects of hands and legs, would shift the horse's weight rear- 
ward and engage the quarters under the new artificial center 
of gravity, always holding the neck high and the head perpen- 
dicular to the ground. His goal was to gather the horse to 


the point where he felt as if the animal was ready to raise 
himself in the air with all four feet simultaneously. This ac- 
complished, he would carry the horse forward, (with imparted 
forces) maintaining the same position. Needless to say, all this 
is not easy to do, and if the rider succeeded in destroying the 
natural forces of the horse but was unable to produce the 
artificial ones, what would remain? Baucher himself performed 
miracles with his method and many of his outstandingly talented 
pupils were also successful with it, but obviously, for the 
majority of riders, it was much too difficult. A serious French 
equestrian historian, Captain L. Picard, wrote at the end of the 
19th century: 

"Monsieur Baucher was an admirable High School horse- 
man; no one surpassed him, nor even equalled him in obtaining 
from the horse the maximum it could give. . . . He set down 
the means by which he searched for and obtained these results, 
and from this point of view he formulated a logical theory. 
But as a result of ambition, he wished to make his method 
universal, and to create an equitation of the future, and there 
he was completely wrong. There is an abyss between the 
method of schooling used for a horse destined exclusively for 
the High School, who repeats the same performance every 
day, and the method which is suitable for war horses and 

Dismounted work in hand, which required great tact, and 
which formed the basis of Baucher's method, was one of many 
other items hardly practical for the army. About ninety years 
earlier the Earl of Pembroke had written in his little instruc- 
tion book for the cavalry: "As for working a horse in hand 
without a rider, I cannot but condemn and reject it: Two 
people indeed in my life-time, and amongst the many I have 
observed, but only two did I ever see who have succeeded in 
it . . ." 









S -6 ^ 


50^ a> ^ 

I ill 

The three pages of Baucher's book that concern jumping 
and the four on field riding do not say much. James Fillis, 
who knew him personally, wrote about this neglect: 

"Baucher being a reformer and consequently a seeker, had 
no pleasure in leaving a horse to himself, as is done when 


hacking. He devoted all his life to his work in order to show 
us the way, which was the only thing that interested him. 
Riding without working was only weariness to him. Therefore 
he never studied the character or manner of riding a hack or 
hunter; or the enormous difference between a 'closed-in' school 
horse and an ordinary saddle horse, which is left a good deal 
to himself." (BREAKING AND RIDING.) 

Were I to write a history of the development of equestrian 
techniques, rather than to describe the various forms educated 
equitation took as a result of the varying circumstances in 
which it found itself, I would here dwell upon how in the 
latter part of his life Baucher changed some of the principles 
of his original method, how he developed a new way of obtain- 
ing full collection, etc. Since such things, however, do not 
belong to the main theme of this book I pass them by. 

As to his simplified method for the army, since it was still 
based on the principle of collection, although of a lower degree 
in this case, it could lead to nothing but smart gaits on parade 
grounds. Because this sort of thing was much admired at the 
period, "Baucherism" remained in force for a long time, and 
even today some dressage riders are influenced by it. On the 
other hand, "few men were ever as violently attacked as was 
Baucher. One has only to glance through the heated polemical 
writings stirred up by his teaching before and after 1840 to 
appreciate the number of his adversaries and their vigour." 
(BIBLIOGRAPHIE HiPPiQUE, by Mennessier de la Lance.) To 
this should be added that few men had as many devoted 
followers: both friends and enemies are naturally made by 
every successful innovator. 

The most formidable of Baucher's adversaries was the Count 
d'Aure. The thinking of both men had its roots in the 18th 
century. On the one hand, Baucher was introducing new 
methods into the old classical manege, and on the other, was 


working on abridging it for the army (an old idea by then). 
The Count d'Aure, although an excellent High School rider 
himself, was primarily interested in outdoor riding, hence his 
aim was greater naturalness. As you already know, the germ 
of this idea also existed even on the continent at the end of the 
18th century. In his own words, his basic principles were: 

"The art [of riding] in becoming more general should be 
simplified: it should no longer consist of producing elevated 
gaits and forced movements, which serve only to display the 
skill and patience of the rider. Today, on the contrary, it 
should be applied to regularizing gaits and to controlling the 
horse, while permitting him to retain all his natural energy, 
and to helping him to develop almost by himself those 
qualities which are proper to him." 

Fifty years later the essence of this paragraph was expounded 
by Federico Caprilli, and today it is one of the basic principles 
on which modern horsemen school hunters and jumpers. It was 
also fundamental to the Count d'Aure's teaching, and he 
repeats this statement in different words several times in his 
book. Wanting equitation to be as simple and natural as 
possible, so that it could serve many horsemen instead of a 
few, he was particularly critical of Baucher's theory of the 
destruction of the natural forces of the horse. In his manege 
teaching d'Aure was very simple. The main theme of his 
work, as stated, was to make riding more natural; hence in his 
book one finds ideas such as: 

". . . England and Germany differ in their principles: the 
former (the English) are occupied with racing and hunting, 
and consider speed as the most important quality. In training 
young horses they employ means that serve to push them 
forward; also, generally English horses are more on the 
shoulders than on the haunches. . . . The Germans, on the 
other hand, work particularly in the manege and are occupied 


with military riding. They want to have horses that are slowed- 
down and handy. To obtain this result they make their horses 
carry more weight on the hindquarters than on the forehand. 
. . . We, in our riding should look for a middle way, and do 
something to come closer to the English principles, without 
taking over what is bad in them; as we also should modify the 
German system, which is the one to which we are the closest. 
These results should be that much easier to obtain in that they 
are closer to nature." (The italics are mine.) 

And, describing the canter departure, the Count d'Aure 
again refers to nature: 

"Work on straight lines, devised to some extent for the trot, 
becomes difficult as soon as it is a question of practicing it at 
a gallop . . . the order in which the legs move at the gallop 
naturally entails a gallop departure from an oblique position 
... in order to depart on the right lead the horse needs to have 
the right shoulder further forward than the left. . . . We 
cannot hope to go against nature to the point of changing the 
order of her equilibrium; perfected work alone may diminish 
this tendency and render it almost imperceptible/' (The italics 
are mine.) 

Concerning this same point General Harry Chamberlin of 
the U.S. Army wrote one hundred years later: 

". . . no attempt to compel a canter with the quarters directly 
in rear of the shoulders should be made. This is neither natural 
nor beneficial, although it is considered important in high- 
by The Derrydale Press, New York, 1937.) 

Here it may be appropriate to say a few words about the 
two terms, "artificial," and "natural," as they are variously 
interpreted in riding. Because a free horse when excited may 
exhibit collected gaits and, if sufficiently stimulated, even 
some airs above the ground, there is a superficial reason to 


call all movements of High School natural. And in a way this 
is correct. A living being cannot learn to do what is completely 
unnatural to him; humans cannot learn to fly, nor can a 
horse be taught to climb trees or to stand on his head. 

Certain movements, such as the ordinary (travelling) walk, 
trot or canter, will be performed all day long by calm horses 
at liberty, as a part of the routine of living. Collected move- 
ments, and leaps in the air, however, being strenuous, will 
only be the result of excitement in a free horse. Manege riding 
is particularly interested in the latter category of movements 
and its aim is to obtain them from a horse sufficiently calm 
to be obedient. To execute with precision and calmness and 
at the direction of the rider those movements which in nature 
are produced only by excitement is completely artificial for the 

Furthermore, in nature a free horse will not keep up any 
collected movement for any length of time, nor follow any of 
the artificial rules for its execution laid down by human beings 
for the sake of beauty and precision. When a free excited horse 
makes a few steps of Passage he does not care to what degree 
his legs are bent, whether he preserves the evenness of his 
steps, or whether his head and neck remain in the correct 
position he just wants to raise hell. The transformation of 
short moments of simple joie de vivre into hours of regular, 
systematic procedure is, to a horse, fully and disturbingly 
artificial. This is why, of course, it is so easy to upset a horse 
when attempting collection without the necessary gradual 
preparation for it. 

In some other instances we use these two terms again without 
any consideration of the horse. For instance, we say that the 
legs and hands are natural aids, while the spurs and the whip 
are artificial ones. Obviously, to the horse, the legs of the rider 
are as artificial as that addition to them the spurs. And the 


hands, acting through the reins and the bit, with which the 
horse was not born, are an artificiality of the highest order. 

Of course one may say that since riding a horse is artificial 
to begin with, the whole of riding must be. This is correct, but 
there remains the matter of degree. 

The least artificial and least abusive manner in which we 
can ride the horse, once we are determined to ride, is to ask 
him only to move at his normal easy gaits, maintaining the 
calmness that is natural to those gaits. This is, as a matter of 
fact, the most efficient way of riding from the point of view 
of covering ground. On this basis we may ride slow or fast, we 
may ride across country, change speeds, gaits, halt, make 
different types of turns, rein back, even require precision in 
the execution of all this, and jump up to the height suitable 
to the particular horse. The horse, even in his present form, 
has a history over a million years long; it was passed on the 
prairies. But the manege is a recent and entirely human 

This is not necessarily to say that the artificial is not often 
to be admired, but simply to point out that it should be 
recognized as artificial. 

The Count d'Aure's, TRAITE D'QUITATION is an absorbing 
book, and one is tempted to go on quoting it indefinitely. I 
shall, however, limit myself here to one more excerpt, which 
I include because I believe many of my readers may be inter- 
ested to know the origin of "posting" to the trot: 

"It is only recently that a long-striding trot has been included 
among the gaits of saddle horses . . . but in altering the gait 
the riders have not been permitted to rectify the discomfort 
produced by its effects [that is they continue to sit in the saddle 
at the fast trot as they did at the slow]. It is from England that 
this long-striding trot has come to us. The English, in order 
to profit by the advantages of speed while seeking to avoid 


its tiring effects, have invented for practical use the period of 
suspension which, while giving the means to avoid discomfort, 
permits the rider to preserve the delicacy of his aids, the firm- 
ness and accuracy of his hand. This is an advantage one can- 
not obtain when subject to violent shaking-up." The posting 
trot to which d'Aure refers had, however, been introduced into 
France as early as the last quarter of the 18th century but was 
opposed by the old masters for a long time. 

It is generally believed that the long-striding trot and the 
posting that went with it originated in England when post- 
chaises appeared on improved roads around 1730. The word 
"post" does seem to reflect the postillions or "post-boys" who 
rode one of the forward horses. However, nowadays in England 
the word "post" is seldom used; the English say "rise to the 
trot." But the word "post" may have come to this country 
with English settlers, and it may reflect the word as used then 
in England. 

It is quite obvious that Baucher, with his inclination toward 
the artificial, and the Count d'Aure, with his pursuit of sim- 
plicity and naturalness, could never agree. Possessing quite 
different temperaments they even argued differently. Char- 
acteristic of Baucher was his self-assurance. For instance: 

"I say it out loud that full collection was never either under- 
stood or defined before me, because it is impossible to execute 
it perfectly without having applied successfully those principles 
which I have been the first to develope." 

The Count d'Aure, on the other hand, presented his argu- 
ments in a mild manner, and occasionally with humor. This 
is how, for example, he treated some of Baucher 's "inven- 
tions" in this case the trot and the gallop backward: 

"Today all we are concerned about are the aids to use when 
we wish to make a horse sit on the haunches and rein back; 
but no mention is made of those required to make him go 


forward. It is perhaps a strange and rare thing to see a horse 
trot and gallop backward but, as use still requires a horse to 
move forward, and today perhaps more than ever, these are 
principles which it may be well to know/' 

The struggle between these two horsemen ultimately re- 
sulted in the following situation described (in 1890) by Captain 
Picard: "The mixture of the two methods is the theme of the 
present instruction at Saumur, and it is in this spirit, more or 
less modified by the one or the other method, that the teaching 
of the different instructors who have succeeded each other may 
be summarized." 

It may be appropriate to mention here that the fundamental 
theme of today's major argument is the same elaboration and 
artificiality as opposed to simplicity and naturalness. And some 
people still try to find a solution by mixing the two. 

Although d'Aure and Baucher were making headlines in 
equestrian news, the High School of de la Gueriniere was still 
practiced by a few, some of whom rode in the circus. Franconi, 
who was a renowned circus rider and an example of all the 
refinement of classical equitation, agreed with Baucher's critics 
that the latter's method was "a disarticulation of the horse, by 
mechanics, rather than by horsemen." Naturally, the old school 
could not look kindly at Baucher. 

While these various arguments about methods of riding 
were going on, the life and customs of the 19th century were 
acquiring certain new characteristics which were to make this 
period in equitation a military one. All the essential causes of 
this started, however, earlier. 

The influence of the French revolution did not perish with 
Napoleon's empire. In the countries conquered by France the 
authority of the church had been abolished and the privileges 
of the nobles liquidated, to be replaced by religious tolerance 
and the equality of all citizens before the law. The ancien 
regime was over. 


Although aristocratic attempts to restore the old order began, 
of course, with the fall of Napoleon, the new democratic ideas 
kept growing. This clash of ideals and of material interests 
eventually culminated in the revolutions of the 'forties. These 
revolutions were suppressed by the army, but the restoration 
of the old regime also failed. The newly evolving order led 
in many ways to an eventual compromise. 

The nobility, whose supremacy had rarely been challenged 
in the past, had now to share their political power, and to 
some degree even their social prestige, with a new class of 
prosperous and educated bourgeosie, created by the industrial 
revolution and colonial trade. The term "society" became 
vaguer in its meaning, often covering the whole of the upper 
and professional classes, or at least their well-educated, well- 
dressed and well-mannered members. Armies underwent a com- 
parable democratization; they became less exclusively aristocra- 
tic and more professional and national. 

By the middle of the century imperialism was growing 
rapidly in all major European countries, and the competition 
which arose from imperialistic trends led to the creation of 
large standing armies, with an effective peace-time strength 
equal to their former war-time one. All this resulted in an 
" Armed Peace" preserved, up to a point, by a "Balance of 
Power." The armies were the backbone of it. 

Although the first half of the century after Napoleon was 
free of large-scale wars, there were enough lesser wars (some 
with grave consequences) in the second half of it on the 
continent, and enough fighting in the colonies to preserve the 
importance of armies in the popular imagination. And official 
militaristic propaganda raised the prestige of the officer in all 
strata of society but the liberal ones. It taught that "the 
uniform of the officer is the dress of the sovereign; only those 
who belong to the chosen of the nation have the right to wear 
it. There is no position higher than that pf an officer; it is 



This uniform of my regiment in the middle of the 19th century is rather 
typical of the European cavalry uniforms of the period. In those days 
the army fought as well as paraded in such elaborate clothing. (From the 

greater than any civilian rank." This indoctrination survived 
until the First World War and I was brought up under it 
myself. For example, on my first day in the regiment, a senior 
officer, briefing me on my future behavior, told me "by virtue 
of being a Sumski hussar you can do no wrong, but if you do 
anything wrong we shall kick you out." This illogical statement 
meant that only the officers' corps could henceforth judge me. 

The romanticism of the period also found the dashing young 
cavalry officers in their brilliant uniforms, who still spent a 
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irresistible. They were painted in spirited and heroic action 
by Gericault, Gros and others, their conquests both military 
and romantic enlivened the fiction of the time. They were 
bound to be envied and admired, and their manner of riding 


became the ideal. The old incentive to "ride the way princes 
ride" was replaced by the new one, "To ride the way the cavalry 

All this, of course, is why Baucher, in the first half of the 
century, and Fillis, in the second, made such strong efforts to 
be recognized by the cavalry. For if one's method was accepted 
by the army, it was accepted by the nation. 


Lesser Lights 

Later in this chapter you will read about the scientific 
research on the mechanics of the horse's movements that was 
conducted in the 19th century by many horsemen and scientists. 
Some of this research, such as the analysis of the dynamic 
balance of the horse, raised hippological knowledge to a new 
high. When we realize this, and also take into consideration 
the fact that all the armies of the period searched for better 
ways of riding and schooling so as to enable their cavalries 
to make longer and faster marches, then it becomes seemingly 
incomprehensible that they did not abolish collection. In 
other words, why didn't a Caprilli appear on the scene earlier? 

All of us who have schooled horses on the principle of free 
going know that a green colt who has trouble in carrying 
the weight of the rider is heavy on the front, and hence moves 
badly and stumbles often. To a rider his movements feel 
uncomfortable and even unsafe. It is only later, after the colt 
has developed sufficient agility and strength to carry weight 
properly that his natural free gaits, based on natural balance, 
may become very pleasant to the rider. But, if from the very 
beginning of schooling, attempts are made to collect the colt, 
the trainer will never even have the chance to experience the 
pleasure of good free gaits. In this case he will remember only 
the awkwardness of the horse before he could be collected and 


his smoothness after he learned to move at collected gaits. This 
narrow experience with horses that had been taught only 
one kind of balance led horsemen to erroneous conclusions. 

It is difficult to comprehend why continental horsemen did 
not experiment. They had, after all, very early in the century 
at least two examples of other ways of doing things: England 
and Russia. I suppose it was easy for an army officer to discard 
English sporting riding with the superficial remark that what 
may be good for fox-hunting is not necessarily good for war. 
But what about the Russian cavalry which, in the course of 
the Napoleonic wars, covered itself with glory on so many 
battlefields all across Europe? There are many contemporary 
prints showing Cossacks watering their horses in the Seine (in 
Paris in 1814), or bivouacking in the Bois de Boulogne. These 
Cossack horses were not schooled to collection, nor were the 
horses of my regiment of the regular cavalry which, by the 
way, entered Paris at the head of the vanguard that had 
charged and destroyed the last resistance of the Napoleonic 
troops outside the city. But despite the experiences of the 
recent wars, the French army returned to collection; other 
countries had never abandoned it; and the victorious Russians, 
in their desire to become as cultured as Europeans, imported 
among other things the Western form of riding which ruined 
their cavalry for several generations. 

All this seems incomprehensible until one takes into con- 
sideration the fact that the taste of the period was strong, and 
the horsemen's logic often weak. 

In all European countries throughout the 19th century, the 
aristocracy, wherever it could, still clung tenaciously to the 
past. While the noble families had lost much of their power 
and some of their wealth, they still retained a great deal of 
their social prestige, and most remained able to continue to live 
in a formal manner in their old castles or palaces. Even the 
diminished scale was still a grand one. 



This contemporary plate shows the entry of the allied armies into Paris 
in 1814. 

The troops on the left are Cossacks, riding on snaffles with the necks 
of their horses completely extended. 

These rough and ready troops were civilized Europe's only glimpses of 
men virtually born in the saddle. But, although the West was fascinated 
and admiring, its horsemen took no hints from their practical but primi- 
THE ANNALS OF EUROPE, during the years 1812, 1813, 1814 and 1815. 
Pub. by R. Bowyer, London, 1815.) 

At the same time the new industrial and commercial 
bourgeoisie was trying hard to imitate its betters. A rich 
industrialist or banker or shipping magnate lived now in a 
large city house, staffed by an army of servants and decorated 
in an eclectic style. The constant search for novelty, the low 
ebb of the creative arts, a sentimental infatuation with the 
past, and the new attraction of the remote and exotic were 
producing Gothic halls, Louis XVI dining rooms, Louis XV 
boudoirs, and Turkish smoking rooms at a rapid rate. The 
revivals were endless. 



To the unpractised eye of the new rich of the period the 
elaborate was often synonymous with the beautiful. The new 
machinery was also now capable of turning out complicated 
decorations which could be and were applied indiscriminately 
to anything and everything. Exposed to this in quantity, even 
the old selective eye of the upper classes eventually became 
uncritical. As the bewildering number and diversity of mate- 
rial objects continued to increase, taste declined, and the 
19th century, although it always continued to strive to be 
genteel, was frequently to be vulgar. 

But formality continued and was manifest in the black frock 
coats and high hats of the gentleman, in the tightly laced 
corsets and high shoes of the ladies, in the dozens and dozens 
of buttons and hooks and eyes and snaps on their elaborate, 

British uniforms issued in 1856. These were considered an improve- 
ment in the direction of simplicity and practicality over the ones previ- 
ously worn by "that most brilliant arm of the service, the cavalry," as the 
Illustrated London News calls it. These officers certainly would not have 
considered themselves properly mounted except on collected horses. (From 



long-skirted dresses. It was visible in the colorful uniforms and 
gold braid of the military, in their white gloves and in the 
rigid kummerbunds some of them wore to set off those uni- 
forms. It was a period when children were still seen and not 
heard, when the little girl's governess was immediately suc- 
ceeded by the young lady's chaperon, when maid-servants wore 
starched aprons and stiff caps, men-servants were in livery, and 
carriages had footmen. 

The pomp and ceremony may not have been as great as in 
the preceding centuries, but restraint and formality still 

The entrance to the stables of Prince Galitzine, built in Russia in 1820. 
Musicians sat in the tribune behind the statuary. Nineteenth century 
riding still could be a formal affair. 

Children of that period briefly visited such stables accompanied by their 
governesses, but mounted their horses from the block at the porte cochere, 
whither the latter were brought by grooms. (From STARIE GODY, St. Peters- 
burg, January, 1910.) 


sufficiently governed the horse-owning class in all they did; 
they would certainly have continued to prefer the elaborate 
movements of a collected horse to the free-going simplicity of 
a well-developed field horse, had they ever had occasion to 
choose between the two which on the continent they did 
not. If we ask ourselves again why the cavalry never developed 
a more efficient and less fatiguing method of covering ground, 
we can only answer that in a period when some infantries were 
goose-stepping and others marching with less exaggerated but 
still stylized movements, one could hardly expect the most 
resplendent branch of the army to move in a natural and 
simple way. 

I began the story of the 19th century with a description of 
what was happening then in France because, once Baucher and 
Count d'Aure became active, France resumed her interest in 
equestrian science and maintained it for the rest of the 
period. For almost forty years after Waterloo Europe enjoyed 
peace. Military thinking, as usual when there is neither any 
pressure of emergency on it nor any practical field in which to 
put its ideas to the test, stood still. Russia presents a striking 
illustration of this tendency. 

"Until 1815 [in Russia] there was no method of schooling a 
cavalry horse; the line cavalry was almost entirely mounted on 
'steppe' horses, and field service was all that was required. 
There were no maneges and therefore there was no manege 
riding. . . . The regiments of our cavalry were known for their 
uniformity only in action; they were capable of long marches, 
swam wide rivers easily, traversed mountains and ravines and 
in battle displayed a boldness and an enthusiasm by which 
they accomplished miracles. . . . In 1815 [the end of the 
Napoleonic wars] we began to imitate the West . . . and from 
this time on we began to train our mounted troops by the 
standards of the German cavalry. . . . The cavalry received 
this announcement and the order had to be obeyed . , . our 




These pictures of a German cavalryman during successive phases of the 
jump, taken before the invention of the motion picture camera, are in- 
stantaneous photographs. They were included among the illustrations in 
a Russian cavalry cadet-school text book published in 1889, as examples 
of how one should jump. They are indicative of what jumping was at a 
time when Dressage still flourished. (Photographs by Ottomar Anschutz. 
From HIPPOLOGICAL ATLAS, by Major General Bilderling, St. Petersburg, 


officers found themselves in a great predicament, for they had 
merely heard of the manege and the special art of horse- 
trainers, but did not have any idea how to start the work. . . . 
Someone translated de la Gueriniere's book on High School into 
Russian, which being a very poor book for the line cavalry- 
man, did not even mention the snaffle, but primarily described 
superior circus riding and was illustrated by the piaffe, ballo- 
tade, capriole, etc. . . . the young commanders jumped at this 
book, assuming that with the help of its information they 
would be able to organize the schooling properly. . . . Fast gaits 
at that time were eliminated. In 1820 it was announced in the 
order of the day of one of the cavalry regiments that 'during 
regimental and troop exercises the full gallop should not be 
employed but rather the smooth movements of the formation 
should be achieved at a walk, collected trot and not-too-fast 
gallop/ . . . The incorrect conditioning and schooling of 
horses became evident in the war of 1828-1829 [Russo-Turkish 
a minor war] when horses, crippled by intensive manege 
breaking, lost flesh during the very first marches, began to 
collapse, and the great majority was found to be completely 
incapable of field service." (From contemporary recollections in 
an article in The Russian Cavalry Messenger for the year 1906.) 

Few books on riding were written in Russia, particularly in 
the first half of the 19th century; I happen to have one of these, 
written by Colonel Ivan Bobinsky and published in 1836. In 
spite of its approximately five hundred pages of rather small 
BACK RIDING. Its contents are not original and merely repeat 
the principles of the old western European manege riding, 
presenting them as the basis for cross-country riding. Accord- 
ing to it the horse should not be allowed to relax even when 
simply travelling along the road. 

"The field or travelling cavalry walk is very different from 
the natural one which an unschooled horse employs. So long 



Another series of the German pictures which illustrated a Russian army 
text book of 1889. 

The Russian caption at the top of the plate reads "field gallop/' This 
gallop was used by the Russian cavalry at the time in conditions which 
today would call for a "hunting pace." This horse however, who is to 
some extent collected, is moving rather at the "extended gallop" of 
Dressage than at an easy, natural and fast field gallop of today. (Photo- 
graphs by Ottomar Anschutz. From HIPPOLOGICAL ATLAS, by Major 
General Bilderling, St. Petersburg, 1889.) 


as the horse in his natural movements does not know how to 
bend the joints of his hindquarters, he carries the croup high 
and the forehand low; hence the shoulders and other mem- 
bers cannot move freely and the walk of the horse is slow and 
heavy . . . the rider, forcing the horse to use the [schooled] 
walk for travelling, should lift the front, without checking the 
horse: and urge the quarters. . . ." 

It is little wonder that these unfortunate animals, with 
mouths pulled and ribs kicked by the hour on long road 
marches, fell apart in war. Since this book was based on the 
German military interpretation of classical equitation, it gives 
some idea of what was happening in parts of Central Europe 
in the first half of the 19th century. 

It is worth noting that among the seven hundred and fifty 
odd subscribers to this book all but eight belong to the army. 
The list is a roll of generals, colonels, captains, etc., and in the 
case of the comparatively few titled names, the rank precedes 
the title. How different from the 18th century; times have 
changed, and the army has taken over. 

On the other hand, England continued to present quite a 
different picture; there foxhunting and racing flourished rather 
than military reviews. 

"After Waterloo, a small standing army was maintained, but 
its popularity came to an end with the war. Though no longer 
regarded as a menace to the Constitution, it was regarded as an 
unnecessary expense by the economic anti-militarism of the 
new age. Moreover, the reformers now rising to influence 
disliked it as an aristocratic preserve. Such indeed it was; but 
the reformers, instead of proposing to reform it and democra- 
tize it, preferred to starve it and cut it down. Meanwhile the 
respectable working classes continued to regard enlistment 
in the army as a sign of failure in life, if not of positive dis- 
grace. Nineteenth Century England, having the good fortune 
to be safe from attack for several generations, conceived that 



so long as her navy was efficient her army could safely be 
by G. M. Trevelyan, 4th vol. Longmans, Green and Co., 1952) 

The great majority of English 19th century riders then were 
civilian rather than military, and riding continued to be for 
sport rather than for parade or the manege, and the flashy hacks 
of Rotten Row were not schooled horses in the Continental 

This was the time in England when the ranks of the hunting 
field, previously made up largely of local gentry and farmers, 

A lesson at Jules Pellier's riding school in Paris. Jules Pellier came of 
three generations of professional horsemen of that name. For a time 
Francois Baucher associated himself with Jules Pellier's father and 
worked in the latter's riding school. They collaborated on a book, Les 
Dialogues sur I' Equitation. 

This picture illustrates the formality of Victorian manege riding, which 
fostered stylish collected gaits. The formal group ride, executing elaborate 
figures, often to music, was a logical civilian counterpart of the brilliant 
cavalry review of the period; it was another one of the descendants of 
the old carrousel. (From LE LANGAGE &QUESXRE, by Jules Pellier, Paris, 


were swelled by well-to-do business people from the fast-growing 
industrial centers. Their town-dwellers' manners and often er- 
ratic performances out hunting gave Robert S. Surtees an excel- 
lent opportunity to make fun of these newcomers in such books 
immediately gained wide popularity. Indeed, sporting litera- 
ture as a whole, glorifying racing and foxhunting, and with a 
strong accent on manly courage, was growing fast. C. J. Apper- 
ley's (Nimrod) famous MEMOIRES OF THE LIFE OF THE LATE 
JOHN MYTTON, still cherished by foxhunting men, was only 
one of the many books on the subject then appearing. 
Spirited illustrations, such as those of the Alkens and John 
Leech contributed much to these books. They also produced 
colored plates to hang on study and inn-parlor walls, depicting 
the chase as one great rollicking adventure, which involved a 
series of bone-shattering but presumably enjoyable falls. 

More serious artists, like George Stubbs (in the 18th cen- 
tury) and Ben Marshall, J .F. Herring, and others later, painted 
the first real portraits of horses and their owners. The results 
were often charming, and for the first time the horse entered 
the drawing room on his own merit. 

Paintings, prints and books, all widely collected today, are 
to be found in many American homes and libraries. From them 
it is easy to see that the atmosphere of 19th century sporting 
England was hardly conducive to a scientific approach to rid- 
ing. This sporting rather than scholastic attitude of English 
horsemen was thus expressed by John Lawrence in his book 
HISTORY OF THE HORSE, American edition of 1830: 

"Nothing can be more obvious than that the menage is 
chiefly ornamental; and that the thoroughly dressed horse is 
rather an object of luxurious parade than of real utility . . . 
the grand menage is an antique and cumbrous superfluity, 
which ought to be laid aside, or exhibited only in a depository 
of heavy carriages and heavy starched apparel. . . ." 



These are not illustrations of "how to draw a horse" but a mathe- 
matical approach to conformation, typical of many 19th century efforts 
to reduce everything concerning riding to a science. (From HIPPOLOGICAL 
ATLAS, by Major General Bilderling, St. Petersburg, 1889.) 

The top drawing by V. Ritter; the lower by Dominik. 


But in the second half of the 19th century in France much 
work was being done toward putting equitation on a sound 
scientific basis. This, of course, could be achieved only after 
the horse's locomotion had been thoroughly analyzed. Many 
horsemen worked towards this end, often assisted by scientists. 
One of the latter, for instance Professor M. Marey, invented a 
"graphic" method for the study of the horse's gaits. A book of 
the period claims that with this -method ''he has determined 
in an almost definite manner most of the principles [of 
locomotion] previously doubtful/' There were others who 
participated in this research, some French, some German, many 
of them professors of veterinary science. To mention a few: 
Vincent, Goiffon and Lenoble du Tail of France; M. L. Hoff- 
man, Ernst and Wilhelm Weber of Germany. 

The outstanding contribution to the study of the mechanics 
of the horse's movements was made, however, in the United 
States in the 'seventies and the 'eighties of the 19th century, by 
a photographer, Eadweard Muybridge. A dispute over whether 
there is a phase of the trot during which all four feet of the 
horse are off the ground provoked Muybridge to make his 
first experiments with instantaneous photography of horses; 
these took place in California during the summer of 1872. "It 
then occurred to him that a series of photographic images in 
rapid succession at properly regulated intervals of time, or of 
distance, would definitely set at rest the many existing theories 
and conflicting opinions upon animal movements generally 
... he devised a system for obtaining a succession of automatic 
exposures at intervals of time which could be regulated at 
discretion . . experiments were carried on from time to 
time ... it was not until 1878 that the results of any of them 
were published." 

In that year some of Muybridge's photographs were repro- 
duced in several European magazines, and in 1886 a French 
artist, Aim6 Morot, painted a battle scene representing gallop- 



Reproduced from a reprint published by Chapman 6- Hall, Ltd., London, 1925. 

In the last quarter of the 19th century photography supplanted learned 
conjecture in the analysis of the horse's movements, and many facts were 
discovered upon which modern theory could build. An American, Ead- 
weard Muybridge, using a battery of cameras, took pictures of successive 
phases of the movements of various animals. (From ANIMALS IN MOTION, 
by Eadweard Muybridge, first published 1887.) 

ing horses in attitudes based on this new knowledge. The 
painting stirred much controversy. People were not used to 
seeing horses in such positions, being accustomed rather to the 
conventional misrepresentations of the gallop and the jump 
typical of English hunting prints or of the numerous battle 
scenes that hung on the walls of a France still dreaming of her 
days of military glory. 

In 1884 Muybridge, sponsored this time by the University 
of Pennsylvania, began his photographic study of the locomo- 
tion of animals in general (with a series of twenty-four cameras) 
and in 1887 published ANIMAL LOCOMOTION, containing some 



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> T ^L^% j u 

^^ 1*^ lamps 1 Flempi, 

An example of the many 19th Century efforts to analyze the horse's 

This series of pictures shows transition from canter to trot and back 
to canter. The horsemen of the last century were very serious about such 
things and made no attempt to popularize them. The text illustrated by 
these drawings is an excellent example of how complicated this scientific 
approach could be. (From "I/Anx EQUESTRE," by E. Barroil, Paris, 1889.) 


20,000 figures of men, birds, lions, elephants, other animals and 
many horses in motion. (This information is taken partly from 
the preface to the abridged edition, reprinted in London in 
1925, under the title ANIMALS IN MOTION, by Chapman & 
Hall, Ltd.) 

About this time Ottomar Anshutz of Lissa, Germany, also 
produced a series of instantaneous photographs of the horse's 
gaits and of jumping. In 1889 these photographs illustrated 
one of the text books of the Nicholas Cavalry School in St. 
Petersburg, Russia, where I later was a cadet. The word had 
spread fast. These 19th century photographs are of little 
practical value today, not only because we now have motion 
pictures, but because the horses in them move awkwardly, as a 
result of exceptionally bad riding. 

Animal locomotion in general, and hence the horse's in 
particular, is a total of two forces: muscular effort and constant 
redistribution of weight. While the muscles of the quarters push 
the horse forward, the weight, momentarily switched to the 
forehand, pulls him forward. Then, just before the instability 
in front can cause a fall, a leg comes forward to support the 
body. This phenomenon is repeated at every stride. The ability 
of the horse to keep himself upright while playing with his 
weight in order to produce movement, and particularly speed, 
constitutes "dynamic" balance. The "static" balance of a horse 
standing still is a very different thing; in this case stability is 
merely the result of a certain constant distribution of weight 
on four feet. 

In the course of the latter part of the 19th century many 
horsemen attempted to analyze the balance of the horse, and 
they gradually arrived at the conception of "dynamic" balance. 
Two professors of veterinary science, Armand Goubaux and 
Gustave Barrier, thus formulated the idea in their book, THE 
EXTERIOR OF THE HORSE, published in 1892, by J. B. Lippin- 
cott Co. 


"The movement of the body over the ground implies dis- 
placements of the center of gravity and, consequently, a de- 
struction of the initial equilibrium, which incessantly compels 
the members to form new bases of support. Hence the mem- 
bers, each in their turn, come forward and prop it in front . . . 
the rapidity with which they succeed each other is so much 
more frequent as the imminence of a fall is greater. Here is 
the reason of the correctness of the expression, that the 
instability of the equilibrium, in these gaits, gives the measure 
of the velocity" 

The progress in thinking accomplished in the course of the 
century becomes evident if one compares this definition with 
what Baucher had to say on the same subject: 

"In our 19th century, when all things should be treated 
scientifically, it was natural that science was asked the secret 
of equilibrium. Science replied with a problem: to put your 
horse in equilibrium, look for his center of gravity. This 
answer did not fail to arouse a noble enthusiasm. Everyone 
went to work. The center of gravity is sought after everywhere, 
all the time . . . but it is not to be found. ... It unquestionably 
exists, but in a passive state. What you set up as a cause is 
merely a result . . . abandon the center of gravity to the in- 
fluences which govern it ... mount a real horse, and you will 
probably approve the principles which I am about to use for 
obtaining and maintaining the equilibrium of the horse." 

In this paragraph, Baucher, completely disregarding the 
horse's natural ways of balancing himself in motion, refers 
exclusively to the artificial equilibrium forcefully given to a 
collected horse by the rider; this equilibrium was the only 
one recognized by Baucher. 

Later in the century many horsemen came to realize that for- 
ward movement in a free-going horse results from a combina- 
tion of muscular effort and a loss of equilibrium to the front, 


but they either did not know, or chose to disregard the role 
played by the neck and head as "balancer" during the walk 
and the gallop and in jumping. It was easy to overlook this, 
since at collected gaits, prevalent then, the balancing "gestures 
of the neck and head practically do not exist/' Thus, at one 
time the chief of the Saumur cavalry school, Captain G. A. 
Gerhardt could write: 

"Experience proved that 'ramener' should be the object of 
the constant preoccupation of the rider. Ramener consists in 
raising the neck and in placing the head in an approximately 
vertical position. This attitude is sought not merely because 
it is graceful . . . but above all because it favors regularity 
of action and the force of the bit." (DRESSAGE ET LA CONDUITE 

"Ramener" is the first step toward collection; the latter 
term refers not only to the attitude of the neck and head but 
to a certain redistribution of weight, and the resultant high 
action. The term "ramener" has never been translated into 
English, and uneducated riders who dabble in dressage often 
confuse it with collection, which in French is called "rassem- 
bler." The rassembler itself may be of different degrees. 

A rigid neck and head at collected gaits are quite correct, 
for in this case the horse's motive power is predominantly 
muscular and, in the absence of constantly repeated moments 
of instability, the auxiliary balancing efforts of the horse's neck 
and head are unnecessary. It is different, however, at fast gaits. 

There is one more point concerning "ramener" and "ras- 
sembler" that may be worth mentioning here. Probably due to 
the fact that riding in our century began by following and, to 
a certain extent, continues to follow the principles of manege 
riding, hence of collection, one often meets horsemen who are 
confused enough to think that the horse is in a state of 
equilibrium only when collected. There is no question but 


that a collected horse is in a state of equilibrium. But the 
fast-moving horse, with neck and head extended, may be in 
equally good equilibrium. The first kind of balance is more 
often than not artificial, while the second is always natural. 
Many horsemen of today are still working to improve the 
method of schooling hunters and jumpers on the basis of 
natural balance. There will be more about this in later 

The scientific approach to the study of the horse's locomo- 
tion, so typical of the century, manifested itself also in attempts 
to present riding as an almost exact science. To illustrate this 
let me quote again from Captain A. Gerhardt's DRESSAGE 


"The animal mechanism may be considered as a reservoir 
of forces from which the horse draws indifferently those which 
he requires to begin or to maintain this or that gait; let a 
stand for the force necessary to produce the walk. Now let us 
suppose that the rider wishes to make his horse gallop; the 
latter, in order to respond to the urging of the aids, must 
draw from his reservoir of forces the amount b which, added 
to the first amount gives a+b, the total which is needed to 
enable him to go into a gallop. But in order to persuade the 
horse to take this gait, the rider must put him in a preliminary 
position, and he is unable to do this without using up n of 
the force a; the latter would therefore be reduced to the amount 
a n which added to b, would be insufficient to enable the 
horse to make a canter departure. 

"In order to overcome this obstacle the rider, while he is 
using one of his legs to give the position to his horse, will 
use the other to induce him to draw from his reservoir of 
forces a new part n'=n and then the amount represents 
a+6 n+n' will be exactly equal to the one we arrived at by 
a-\-b; which is to say that the horse will employ a total of 


forces sufficient to enable him to respond instantaneously to the 
urging of the aids, if no other physical cause impedes him." 

The mathematical approach to be found in some books 
resulted from a serious attitude toward the mechanics of the 
horse's movements on the continent at least. It was tradition- 
ally different in England. There, fine sporting results were 
achieved merely on the basis of a rider's experience and 
boldness, and on the superiority of the horse-flesh. The English 
books of the time stress courage rather than mathematics: 

" 'He that would venture nothing must not get on horseback' 
says a Spanish proverb, and the same caution seems applicable 
to most manly amusements or pursuits. , . . 'Where there is 
no fear there is no danger/ though a somewhat reckless 
aphorism, is more applicable, I think, to the exercise of riding 
than to any other venture of neck and limb. ... If the man's 
heart is in the right place his horse will seldom fail him; and 
were we asked to name the one essential without which it is 
impossible to attain thorough proficiency in the saddle, we 
should not hesitate to say nerve. Nerve, I repeat, in contra- 
distinction to pluck. The latter takes us into a difficulty, the 
former brings us out of it. Both are comprised in the noble 
quality we call emphatically valour . . ." (RIDING RECOLLEC- 
TIONS, by G. J. Whyte-Melville, published in 1878.) 

Now about the rest of Europe: the two countries, Germany 
and Italy, which were to exert the strongest opposing influ- 
ences on 20th century riding throughout the world, did not 
play such universal roles in the 19th. In the beginning of this 
chapter I mentioned that early in the latter century the 
Russian cavalry was under the influence of German military 
riding; it remained so into the nineties. This statement, how- 
ever, should be qualified by saying that Germany herself did not 
have a uniform school of riding. While, for instance, the horses 
of one Prussian regiment were trained by Baucher's method, 


that method was criticized by such important German masters 
as Louis Seeger and E. Seidler. The story of minor influences 
and counter influences is very complex, and in this book I 
shall avoid discussing them. Undoubtedly every nation that 
borrows ideas from another modifies them to some extent to 
suit its national characteristics and the needs of the moment. 
Nor should local influences be confused with those of national 
or international scale. In a period when so many rode, there 
naturally were outstanding horsemen in every country, who 
earned the admiration of their contemporaries and died with- 
out influencing equestrian techniques or leaving an enduring 
memory beyond the borders of their fatherland. 

For instance, have you ever heard of Saint-Phalle? The other 
day, when leafing through The Russian Cavalry Messenger for 
1908, I came upon his obituary. He was a French cavalry 
officer who died that year at the age of forty. In 1900 in Paris 
he won the "Championship of the Universal Horse." The "test 
consisted of the following: an endurance test of 50 kilometers, 
arena jumping, a steeple-chase 4l/ kil., the speed to exceed 
550 metres per minute, and a schooling test, during which the 
rider might exhibit anything the horse was able to do. Captain 
Saint-Phalle, riding his thoroughbred mare, Marcelle, was first 
in every test, and during the schooling phase of the competition 
demonstrated, besides the full program of ordinary riding, High 
School movements, including changes of lead while galloping 

But Captain Saint-Phalle did more than ride; he wrote 
books, in one of which, by the way, he criticized James Fillis' 
method; and his comments were important enough for Fillis 
to answer them in his JOURNAL DE DRESSAGE. Probably it was 
only an early death that prevented Saint-Phalle from playing a 
more lasting role than he did. 

Or take the case of the French General A. L'Hotte who, 


according to his compatriots, was "one of the glories of French 
equitation/' and who "knew how to obtain the most difficult 
airs of High School without making the action of his aids 
obvious to the eye of the spectator/' As Baucher's pupil he 
advanced this kind of equitation even further than his famous 
teacher. But due to his unsociable character he had few pupils 
and thus did not exert wide personal influence during his life. 
His important book was published only in 1906, after his 
death and at a time when Caprilli was already teaching a com- 
pletely new method of cross-country riding and jumping, and 
France had ceded her place as a source of original thinking 
to Italy. General L'Hotte was too late to influence the world. 
However, both his and Saint-Phalle's books remained as very 
important items in the teaching of the Saumur cavalry school. 

Language, too, often forms a barrier. The international 
equestrian language of the century was French, and thus the 
possible influence of some important German books, which 
were never translated into French, was curtailed then and 

Considering all this, in describing the 19th century I stress 
the role of two countries, France and England. The first exerted 
her influence not only by the seriousness and the originality 
of her thinking, but also through the great number of first- 
class horsemen who were active in the search for better riding; 
while England was influential through her achievements in the 
field of spirting riding, and through her production of better 
horse flesh. What England accomplished empirically, the con- 
tinent achieved eventually on a scholastic basis; it was England, 
however, who had pointed the way. 

Until very recently it was not sufficient merely to ride bril- 
liantly in order to exert wide influence. All the so-called 
masters of equitation created their own methods or at least 
improved existing ones; they also taught, and wrote books. 




ill 19th century England it was not riding itself which changed as much 
as the people who rode to hounds, and their manners and tastes. John 
Leech, the famous caricaturist, here emphasizes the social changes in fox- 
hunting circles, from the "good old times" to the "present degenerate" 
ones. (From THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS, February 23, 1856.) 


Their books survived, and their able pupils spread the new 
theories, often also writing about them. It is only since com- 
petitive horse shows have become the popular equestrian 
game that outstanding winners, helped by the press and its 
photographs, can influence young riders on a large scale. The 
present German international team is a particularly con- 
spicuous example of this. Even so, I wonder how long their 
names will survive. Who, for example, remembers today the 
names of those pupils of Caprilli who originally did so much by 
their successful riding to promote the doctrines of their famous 
teacher? Who even remembers the names of all the members 
of the Mexican international team who won the Olympic 
Jumping of 1948 and were victorious in Madison Square Gar- 
den for so many years? It is only in institutions like cavalry 
schools or the Spanish School of Vienna that the names of 
their great riders of the past are preserved. 

Leaving aside the story of innovations and improvements, 
and simply tracing the conditions of riding in Europe at the 
end of the 19th century, it may be worth while to listen to a 
knowledgeable (although perhaps not entirely unprejudiced) 
contemporary. James Fillis thus described them in his JOURNAL 
DE DRESSAGE (1903): 

"There is but one school in Europe where the real school 
[High School] horse is to be found; that is Saumur. Its horses 
are schooled in a manner to be ready for any kind of work 
because they are well-balanced, light, and obedient to the 
hands and legs . . . the riders are quiet in their movements. 
They are united with their horses by a suppleness and ease 
which they owe to their seat and their attitude . . . and it is 
only there that one finds the school horse as I understand it; 
that is, schooled so that it will be able at a moment's notice, 
without further preparation, to hunt, race, or go to war. . . . 

"Vienna has two schools, one of which is called Spanish, in 
which there are only horses that have been schooled between 


pillars. These horses can only be used in the manege. Under 
these conditions I consider High School harmful. Once school 
horses not only cannot be used for all purposes but are not 
even the best among the good it means that the art is warped. 
The other school is military, with no school [High School] 

11 Germany has three large schools: Hanover, Dresden and 
Munich. At Hanover there are five or six school horses which 
are not distinguished for their brilliance. They lack delicacy 
and particularly suppleness. What is particularly noticeable is 
the complete lack of those coordinated movements by which 
the rider collects his horse and makes him very light. The 
reason for the inferiority of German riding, as far as High 
School goes, is the result of the lack of an outstanding rider. 
There was one, named Steinbrech, whose example has not been 
followed, and his only pupil seems not to have understood 
him. French equitation requires the horse to be schooled by 
the mouth, German by the neck. This is why German equita- 
tion appears so stiff and hard next to the French. The mouth 
is a piano, the neck is an organ. A horse schooled by the mouth 
can be kept in hand by a mere thread at the end of the fingers, 
but one schooled by the head and neck requires taut reins and 
even taut arms. This is why the first type of equitation is all 
delicacy, the second all force. Dresden and Munich are quite 
inferior to Hanover; in these places the iron glove has replaced 
the velvet glove. On the other hand, ordinary riding (in Ger- 
many) which they call country riding, is quite superior to that 
in other European countries in that it is far more widespread. 
In Germany everyone knows enough about equitation to school 
his horse without the help of a teacher. In every city in Ger- 
many there is a quantity of excellent schools. Berlin has several, 
with between 200 and 300 horses apiece. ... In a word, civilian 
riding is as widespread in Germany as it is neglected in other 


parts of Europe. When it comes to military riding it is abso- 
lutely first class [in Germany]; the horses are as obedient as 
the men. I consider it one of the most perfected of Europe. 

"There is no artistic riding in England: there is only sporting 

"I cannot speak for Italy, never having had the honor of 
visiting its schools. 

"I have lived in Belgium and Holland. As these two coun- 
tries raise no saddle horses, the cavalry procures them from 
Ireland. Good horses and well schooled, but not school horses. 

"Should I speak of the Russian school? [At this time Fillis 
was chief instructor in this school.] We are twelve instructors 
and we have only twelve horses for our. school [High School] 
lessons. These are not enough, because there should be reserve 
horses available in case of disability. And our horses are used 
for everything. After having used them in the school from Octo- 
ber to May we put them in training for six weeks. They ran in 
July [in military races]; in August they made a forced march 
of 150 miles in two days carrying 175 pounds; then in Septem- 
ber they were hunted. This proves the usefulness of rational 
schooling, because these horses did well in all these tests. . . /' 

This is probably neither an entirely impartial nor a com- 
pletely comprehensive account of the state of riding in Europe 
at the time, but in view of the fact that, to my knowledge, no 
other horseman with the same opportunities for observation 
gave such a summary, makes it particularly interesting. By pre- 
senting Fillis* point of view it introduces the reader to the 
man we shall discuss at length in the following chapter. 


James Fillis 

From the point of view of wide-spread influence at the turn 
of the century, James Fillis was second only to Baucher. Fillis' 
lished in Paris in 1890, and afterwards translated into several 
languages. Significantly enough, the title was rendered into 
English as BREAKING AND RIDING (Hurst and Blackett, Ltd., 
London, 1902); the term "Dressage/' often so glibly used today, 
was not in vogue in England some sixty years ago when the 
translation first appeared. (Many passages quoted in this chapter 
will be from this translation.) 

Born in London in 1834, Fillis came to France as a young- 
ster, lived there longer than in any other country, and died in 
Paris in 1913. It was to this city, his home for many years, that 
he dedicated his second book, JOURNAL DE DRESSAGE, published 
by Ernest Flamrnarion, Paris, 1903. Fillis himself described the 
beginning of his riding career: 

"I was eight years old when I was put for the first time on 
the back of a horse. My humble person was not very highly 
valued and as soon as a horse resisted or made trouble they 
shouted 'put the boy on him/ They put him on and made him 
push the horse forward with heels, crop and whip. He stayed 
on as best he could, or rolled on the ground to be put astride 
again immediately. 


"Such were my first steps in the art of equitation. This is 
how from childhood I began to cultivate the great principle of 
impulsion which has since become so dear to me. 

"Later came empirical work, with all the experiment it 
entails, the searching, the gropings, the gradually corrected 
errors, the mistakes rectified with difficulty, the sterile or fruit- 
ful efforts, and the good and bad advice, amidst the confusion 
of which one must orient oneself." (PRINCIPES DE DRESSAGE ET 
D'QUITATION, 3rd edition, 1892.) 

After riding for dealers and working on the track, Fillis 
studied High School under Baucher's former pupil, Francois 
Caron, to whom he dedicated his first book. While still a young 
man he rode under Franconi in the circus of the Champs ly- 
ses in Paris. In the course of his life he demonstrated his High 
School horses in many European circuses, and gave private 
exhibitions before the Emperor of Germany, the Tsar of 
Russia, the President of France, the Queen of Belgium, the 
King of Denmark and the Emperor of Austria. Fillis ended his 
showman's career in 1898, after an engagement in Ciniselli's 
circus in St. Petersburg, Russia. The founder of this circus was 
Gaetano Ciniselli "a high priest of la Haute ficole" and, of 
course, a pupil of Baucher. Fillis was then earning the equiva- 
lent of $900.00 a month in roubles at Ciniselli's; only consider 
what this would represent today. The Ciniselli circus was at 
that time a very fashionable institution and could pay the price, 
particularly to the outstanding master of this then very popular 
form of entertainment. 

The European circus of those days differed considerably 
from the American travelling three-ring one under a "big top." 
It was housed in a permanent building, and offered a perform- 
ance every day of the season. Although the circus did not move, 
the actors changed. It had only one ring and the accent was 
rather on a high level of individual performance than on large- 



Cantering on three legs while holding the fourth one up and extended 
in the air was one of the movements invented by Fillis. He writes: "I 
have never seen it done by anyone else, and I have never met with its 
description in any treatise on equitation." (From "PRINCIPES DE DRESSAGE 
ET D'EQUITATION," by James Fillis, Paris, 1892.) 

scale pageantry. Ciniselli's circus was an attractive stone build- 
ing, with red velvet seats inside, and on many nights people 
in evening dress were to be seen in the boxes. 

About riding in the circus Fillis wrote: ". . . it is. as natural 
for a horseman to ride in a circus, as for a lyric artist to show 
himself at the opera . . ." As a matter of fact, in those days, 
when public competitions in Dressage did not yet exist, the 
circus was the only place where a civilian horseman could 
exhibit his art. The high standards of equestrian performances 
at Ciniselli's were still maintained In my youth, and the cavalry 


school where I was a cadet went there yearly, in a body, to 
watch manege riding at its perfection. 

It seems to me that in the days when outstanding High 
School riders performed in circuses and some of the instructors 
of the Saumur cavalry school practiced the canter to the rear, 
it was not easy to pinpoint the distinction between High School 
and circus. The argument that the canter to the rear is a circus 
trick but that movements above the ground, artificially taught 
between pillars, are not, hardly holds water for those who are 
not indoctrinated. There is a point of view, however, that 
maintains that classic High School is limited to the movements 
taught by de la Gueriniere. The Spanish School of Vienna illus- 
trates this attitude when it practices the Capriole, the Croupade, 
etc., but excludes from its program such a thing as the canter 
to the rear, which was invented later. Such a policy of conser- 
vation may be considered valid we have to have museums, but 
art has to go ahead also. Baucher, Fillis and other High School 
riders of the 19th century developed new forms of the art, and 
in this they are to be congratulated rather than condemned. 

An Englishman, Captain M. Horace Hayes, who knew Fillis 
personally, and who did not admire High School but much 
preferred foxhunting, wrote of Fillis: 

"He is very much of the same kind of build as was poor 
George Fordham, and no doubt would have been a brilliant 
jockey, had he entered that line. He is very energetic and is 
always true to his favorite motto, en avant. . . . Although he is 
a naturalized Frenchman, his heart is English, and I am sure 
that nothing would give him greater pleasure than to have his 
skill recognized in England. . . . The difficulty of course is that 
in England, riding means riding to hounds, which has not 
much in common with school performances/' (AMONG HORSES 
IN RUSSIA, 1900.) 



Two examples of the "gallop rearward," one of the new movements of 
19th-century High School, invented by Baucher. 

An example of a movement that originated in the contemporary circus 
being adopted by cavalry officers who were great devotees of High School. 
(From JOURNAL DE DRESSAGE, by James Fillis, Paris, 1903.) 

In 1898 the Russian army invited Fillis to teach in the Offi- 
cers' Cavalry School in St. Petersburg. Fillis held the position 
of chief instructor in this school until his retirement in 1910, 
at the age of seventy-six. Thus he succeeded in becoming offi- 
cially important in the training of cavalry which, you may 
remember, had been Baucher's dream. Fillis based the teaching 
in the army on his own simplified method, and it is described 


in the Russian Army regulations for schooling horses of 1908, 
which were translated in 1914 into French as REGLEMENT POUR 
LE DRESSAGE BU CHEVAL D'ARMES (pub. by Ernest Flammarion, 
Paris). Fillis' method remained in force until the First World 
War, which really marked the end of the 19th century. The 
experiences on this practical proving ground, however, disap- 
pointed those who still believed in collection and in arduous 
manege schooling. 

Fillis was a hard worker. He tells in one of his books how 
when young he rode some ten horses on a week day, and three 
or four on Sundays and holidays. At the time Baron Gustave 
de Rothschild employed him he would begin work at four 
o'clock in the morning in the summer, and at five in the winter. 
One exceptional summer, during all of July and August and 
part of September, he rode sixteen horses daily, riding from 
four in the morning until eight at night, without time out for 
a real lunch. What price glory! In 1903 Fillis estimated that 
up to that time he had made about forty High School horses. 

In his High School work for the circus, besides demonstrat- 
ing such usual movements as the Passage, the Piaffe or the 
Pirouette at the gallop, Fillis exhibited such exotic feats as 
the half-rear with one of the forelegs extended, the gallop to the 
rear, the Passage on two tracks, the Courbette and the Pesade. 
Fillis' actual repertory was very large and included many move- 
ments in both categories. 

Fillis' books are illustrated by photographs of him riding, 
from which we gather that at least in his later days he had a 
far from elegant seat; his legs were often stuck forward, his 
body assumed many positions, the strong use of spurs caused 
his toes to point downward on occasions. But his horses are 
fully collected that is, sitting down on the hocks with a slop- 
ing croup; and they perform with great vigor. As one of my 
older friends, a former pupil of Fillis, used to say, "His horses 



The caption to this picture in one of Fillis' books reads: "an ordinary 

Fillis' conception of an ordinary gait was obviously very different from 
today's. (From JOURNAL DE DRESSAGE, by James Fillis, Paris, 1903.) 

moved as if the devil was inside them/* But despite this, Cap- 
tain Hayes wrote, "the horse he rode walked into and round 
the ring [of a circus] in ordinary style, and without a trace of 
excitement or exaggerated collection, until he began his par- 
ticular act. As soon as the animal had finished his numero, he 
resumed his placid way of going, which showed that his bril- 
liance was not the result of his having been tortured. Fillis is 
certainly the greatest master of this kind of riding." 

At that time thousands of people must have agreed with 
Captain Hayes, for in the days when good High School riding 
could be seen in every first-class circus, and every important 


city of Europe had at least one permanent one, Fillis was the 
shining star. And there must have been some good reason for 
inviting him to teach cavalry officers. 

Dressage riders of today, while they may admit his artistry, 
are apt to look down on Fillis as on a mere showman. This 

The Russian army regulation seat at the end of the 19th century, of 
which, the present German dressage seat is very reminiscent; it was then 
rather typical of all continental European armies. This was an all-purpose 
seat at the time, and that is one of the reasons why the jumping of the 
period was so deplorable. (From HIFPOLOGICAL ATLAS, by Major General 
Bilderling, St. Petersburg, 1889.) 

may be so. But one should not forget that Fillis made many 
creditable High School riders I knew several. At the moment 
I am curious to know how much of Fillis' teaching was behind 
the winning of the Grand Prix de Dressage by a Russian in 
the Olympic Games of 1960; a second Russian placed fifth. As 
a matter of fact, I was told by a Dressage judge in those Games 


that Russian performances in Rome were still a product of 
Fillis' school, rather than of the modern French school and 
certainly not of the German school. 

Today, with only books by which to judge Fillis, I am always 
particularly impressed by the simplicity of his presentation of 
High School, and by the originality of his thinking about this 
form of riding. This is especially apparent in his JOURNAL DE 
DRESSAGE, a diary of the training of three horses. These three 
stories are vividly written, and Fillis' understanding of the 
animals and the ingenuity with which he solves different prob- 
lems are very striking. On the other hand, I find that his most 
treats of both High School and ordinary riding such as hacking, 
hunting, and riding in army ranks, can be quoted to support 
very different points of view. This, of course, would be un- 
avoidable wherever there is an artificial mixture of two kinds 
of riding. Such lack of consistency is typical also among those 
people today who try to combine Dressage and Forward Riding. 

Actually both parts of Fillis' work have the same foundation, 
which is collection. It is merely by the degree of collection that 
he distinguishes his different uses of the horse with the ex- 
ception of racing. He himself (in the Army Regulation") says: 

"If the Rassembler is the acme of the High School it is 
no less, although in a smaller degree, the basis of practical 

which, as I have pointed out, deals with High School as well 
as with "practical" riding, Fillis also states that collection is the 
basis of his method: 

"My method of equitation consists in distribution of weight 
by the height of the neck bent at the poll and not at the withers; 
propulsion by means of the hocks being brought under the 
body; and lightness by the loosening of the lower jaw." 


I can still recite this paragraph in Russian; in the cavalry 
schools of my days, the cadets were made to memorize it which 
really was too bad for the cavalry. Let us analyze what these 
few lines mean. First of all, by building his method on a fixed 
distribution of weight Fillis completely disregarded the natural 
locomotion of the horse in which the weight (center of gravity) 
is constantly fluid. In the second place, by implying that the 
hind legs alone propel the horse forward, Fillis again disre- 
garded the role which the horse's weight plays in moving the 
body forward. Thus this part of the paragraph really refers to 
the artificial balance of a High School horse, similar to that of 
Baucher's horses. As a matter of fact, Fillis considered himself 
Baucher's follower. But since he was also an innovator he did 
not accept Baucher's teaching in its entirety; in his books he 
frequently argues against Baucher's method. A characteristic 
point of Baucher's collection, during most of his career, was 
the low bend of the neck, and it is probably against Baucher 
that the phrase "neck bent at the poll and not at the withers" 
is directed. As to the last phrase, about the loosening of the 
lower jaw, you may remember that in the previous chapter I 
quoted Fillis' saying that the French school their horses by the 
mouth and Germans by the neck. This third item pointed out 
on which side Fillis was. 

In the matter of the balance of the horse in motion Fillis, 
who most of his life practiced the artificial balance of High 
School, was confused when trying to simplify his system for 
ordinary riding. Thus, for instance, describing the army horse 
he says: 

"The horse ought to be neither on his shoulders nor on 
his haunches; but should have his own weight and that of his 
rider equally distributed on both ends/' (which is medium 

On the other hand, he also says: 


"The army horse should be balanced in such a way, as to 
be skilful at displacing his center of gravity as necessity de- 
mands, that is: to be able to shift the necessary amount of 
weight forward at rapid gaits, and to shift it to the rear for 
slow ones . . ." 

This paragraph, although it clearly contradicts the previous 
one, expresses, of course, a correct idea. But again Fillis negates 
his own statement by completely disregarding the important 
part neck movements play in the shifting of weight. Instead of 
leaving the neck free to act he insists upon giving it a certain 
fixed position. 

'Tor enabling the horse to carry his weight better and to 
facilitate the utmost liberty in his movements it is necessary: 

a) To place the head and the neck correctly rather high . . . 

b) To give the neck muscular strength to make it rigid at 
its base . . ." 

Obviously, if one were to work long enough on raising the 
neck and on developing those muscles that tend to keep it 
elevated with a rigid base, not every horse would be able to 
extend it again readily, while still remaining on the bit, on 
the rare occasions when he might be asked to do so that is, 
of course, except for the calm walk on loose reins. 

And, certainly unintentionally, Fillis himself illustrates this. 
In his JOURNAL DE DRESSAGE there are pictures of him on Maes- 
toso and Povero, demonstrating what he calls "an ordinary 
trot/' In all these pictures the neck is high and stiff, the chin 
drawn in, in the manner of a collected horse. Two pictures of 
a "fast gallop" show the neck and head in the same high and 
fixed position. To us today, his horses in these pictures are col- 
lected. Obviously the term "ordinary" may mean two different 
things to a High School performer and to a cross-country rider. 

On the whole Fillis" books give the impression that even in 
his simple work he remained primarily a High School rider 



A< wW* fin*,* W?^* fv* n .i-, kl PB 

A High-School air popular in the 19th Century circus (what the 
Austrians call Pesade and the French Courbette). 

The lightness of the rider's hands and the relatively relaxed attitude of 
the horse are to be noted. (From ANGLO-FRENCH HORSEMANSHIP, by John 
Swire; published by Vinton & Co., London, 1920.) 


who, in attempting to make his method practical for everybody, 
was ready to give up many of his regular practices but not all. 
It would have been the more difficult also for him to relinquish 
them since he had nothing with which to replace them. All of 
his predecessors who attempted similarly to simplify manege 
riding had run into the same difficulty. Dressage, developed 
for a certain purpose, is a logically constructed method. One 
cannot adapt it to other purposes by merely watering it down. 
The problems of cross-country riding could not be solved on 
the basis of the theories of manege riding. Riding on uneven 
terrain at fast gaits, over obstacles, and without unduly tiring 
the horse required an entirely new approach. Fillis' contem- 
porary, an Italian cavalry officer, Captain Federico Caprilli, 
was the one who finally solved this problem. 

One of the principles of his High School that Fillis could not 
give up, even for the army, was the belief that artificial balance 
(although Fillis did not call it artificial), with part of the 
weight permanently switched to the rear, should be given the 
horse before working him mounted at gaits. Consequently, Fil- 
lis' schooling began dismounted, "in hand/' This work aimed 
to raise the neck, to give a perpendicular position to the head, 
and to shift part of the weight from the front to the rear. It 
was also in hand that flexions of the mouth, turns in place, 
backing, and two tracks were first taught. 

This dismounted work "in hand" along the wall (and it was 
only the beginning of schooling) was quite impractical for the 
army, for it required an amount of equestrian tact not likely 
to be found in many troopers. As a matter of fact, Fillis himself 
wrote: ". . . the flexion is such a delicate thing that an incapable 
horseman who practices it will often spoil a horse instead of 
improving him . . ." Our soldiers, almost all of whom were 
used to heavy work in the fields, did not always have delicate 
hands. All this manege schooling resulted in my day in horses 



Even in his "simple" method for army use Fillis preserved the usual 
practice of 19th century Dressage riders of beginning schooling by "work 
in hand." 

Here, a Russian trooper in a Hussar uniform is working on raising the 
neck and bringing the head into an almost vertical position. (From a 
Russian Cavalry Manual of 1908, which embodied the teaching of James 

whose chins rested on their chests, whose mouths were of iron, 
and who moved very badly indeed. Although strong-armed sol- 
diers handled them quite well at reviews, they could not ride 
them efficiently across country and their jumping was plainly 
abominable. Besides this, we had far too many cases of spavin. 
After our first month or so of fighting in World War I, we 
(in my regiment, anyway) discarded our curb bits, retaining 
only the snaffles, and began to ride on long reins. But even 
before this minor revolution and as early as 1906 and 1907, a 


few articles criticizing the army's emphasis on manege riding 
appeared in the Russian Cavalry Messenger. One cavalry officer, 
for instance, wrote that: 

"The work in hand is entirely impractical because of the 
scarcity of covered rings (good ground being necessary), and 
because of its difficulty. To teach this symphonic music to our 
peasant soldiers would require a great deal of time at the ex- 
pense of other exercises." 

In my regiment, the First Sumski Hussars, which was sta- 
tioned in Moscow, we had two covered rings; but these were 
rarely used in my time as the general policy was to conduct all 
exercises outdoors and make good Spartans of us. There were 
no riding or schooling lessons during the summers, which were 
spent in the country practicing formation exercises, shooting, 
and taking part in regional maneuvres. In Moscow, riding was 
taught in outdoor rings, and since the Russian winter set in 
early and lasted late, mostly between high snow walls, with a 
layer of straw-manure for the track hardly ideal conditions for 
work "in hand." True enough, our horses had had one year of 
schooling, prior to joining the regiment, in so-called reserve 
regiments which were large training depots, after which the 
animals supposedly needed no further fundamental work. But 
even if some of us escaped teaching the preliminary work in 
hand, we all taught, both dismounted and mounted, two tracks 
along the snow wall another of Fillis' favorite exercises. You 
can imagine what it was when our healthy country boys took 
a crack at it. 

Concerning work in hand, the commander of a cavalry bri- 
gade, Lt. General Tsourikoff, wrote in 1908: ". . . Does it 
really give balance to the horse? I doubt it. In any case, this 
balance will be destroyed once the horse is mounted . . . and 
thus all the preliminary work will be found unnecessary. . . 
One often hears 'schooled, balanced, engaged the quarters/ 


what profound naivete to ascribe to oneself that which a horse 
achieves by himself in work. There in the field, . . . crossing 
little unevennesses in the ground, the young horse will nat- 
urally adjust his way of going so as to make it easier for him- 
self to carry a rider, in other words he will acquire a correct 
balance. . . . Who has not seen a girl, almost a child, easily 
and freely carrying a yoke with two buckets of water? Take her 
yoke and try to walk with it, step over a log, cross a ditch you 
probably will lose your balance and spill the water. The girl 
is used to it and you are not. It is the same with a young horse. 
No matter how much you work him in hand in a ring without 
a rider, as soon as you ride him out into the field he will have 
to adjust himself again. A horse, if worked correctly, will find 
his balance by himself/' (Russian Cavalry Messenger) 

Before the 19th century much dismounted work was con- 
ducted with the help of one or two pillars to which the horse 
was attached. Dismounted work in hand, which was also used 
early, was adapted by Baucher to his particular purposes. By it 
he attempted to supple the horse's neck, his lower jaw, loins and 
hindquarters. He practiced it primarily in place, with occasional 
backing. Fillis' work in hand differed from Baucher' s in that 
most of it was done while moving forward. Fillis thus referred 
to this difference between himself and Baucher: 

"Baucher writes: 'During the first lesson the entire half hour 
should be occupied in stationary work, except the last five 
minutes, during which the rein-back will be practiced/ Twenty- 
five minutes of stationary work and five minutes of reining 
back is a deplorable waste of time. For a lesson of half an hour's 
duration I would devote thirty minutes to forward work, with- 
out any stationary work or reining back." 

Since he based his schooling on forward impulsion Fillis was 
naturally even more opposed to the use of the pilkrs than to 
Baucher's stationary work in hand. This was one of the reasons 


why he did not appreciate the Spanish School of Vienna of his 

1 'The horse is tied to the pillars in such a way that he cannot 
make a step forward. Then his hindquarters are driven by the 
whip; since the poor animal cannot extend he draws himself 
together. It is easy to understand that after a horse has spent 
months, or even years, contorting himself in order to draw 
himself together, any extended movement is completely un- 
familiar to him." 

In the remainder of this chapter from the JOURNAL DE DRESS- 
AGE, Fillis further accuses the Spanish School of artificiality 
and of failure to develop good gaits: "the horses of Lippiza 
are not able to do anything outside the manege;" "these horses 
have neither [good] walk, nor trot, nor gallop;" "the trainers 
make a point of preventing these horses from utilizing what 
nature gave them," etc. Then Fillis describes at length how 
he obtained better results by schooling a Lippizaner according 
to his own method. 

That a circus rider should compare his system favorably with 
that used in one of the generally recognized temples of classical 
High School may seem preposterous to many today. To appre- 
ciate this particular criticism one should remember that Fillis 
was not only the foremost High School rider of his time, but 
one who hunted and raced his High School horses. How success- 
ful he was at this I do not know, but he did it I suspect badly 
by modern standards. 

Great as Fillis' method in High School may have been, his 
system for army use met continuous criticism from officers in 
the field, and not only because of its work in hand. Many re- 
sented the emphasis on collected manege schooling and would 
have preferred more cross-country training. Then a cavalryman 
who hid his identity under the initials of J. J., wrote a series 


of articles which appeared in the Russian Cavalry Messenger of 
1907, in which he expressed surprisingly modern ideas: 

"One must remember that the horse's neck and head play 
the same part in his movements as the arms do in the move- 
ments of a human being. We swing our arms one after another 
when we wish to walk fast, we thrust our necks forward and 
swing with both arms simultaneously when we jump and, in 
general, wishing freedom in our movements, do not tie up any 
one of our limbs in an unnatural position. . . . Manege riding 
at collected gaits does not assure control over the horse at a 
fast pace; many horses that are obedient while they are held 
to a slow pace begin to pull the moment they begin to move 
fast. . . . Here we are not speaking of such outstanding riders 
as Fillis, whose High School horses hunt and race; his is an 
exceptional talent; his method of schooling, called a short one, 
is too refined, and I doubt that it is practical for the multitude. 
. . . Freedom of the head and neck of the horse, a natural posi- 
tion of his center of gravity closer to the front, and the work 
of unobstructed hindquarters give the horse the least tiring and 
the fastest movement forward. . . . the term 'to balance the 
horse' should sound absurd to the modern rider. . . . the horse 
himself will shift his center of gravity so as to carry the weight 
of the rider advantageously. ... A great number of the horses 
that work under Cossacks, farmers, and hunters illustrate the 
three fundamentals of riding: (1) complete freedom of the neck 
and of the head, (2) a natural position of the center of gravity 
near the front; (3) work of the unobstructed hindquarters/' 

I would love to know whether this was written under Ca- 
prilli's influence, or whether the writer arrived at these con- 
clusions by himself simply from observing Russian natural 
horsemen Cossacks and various semi-nomadic peoples. 

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and Asiatic plains, have been cross-country riders for better 
than two thousand years. Their bits were usually simple and 
their traditional position in the saddle is often reminiscent of 
the modern Forward Seat. Russian Cossacks, for instance, always 
rode with short stirrups, in which they stood, keeping the seat 
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fully in the saddle only at a walk. This type of riding is not 
based on any theory of equitation; it has developed through cen- 
turies of living in the saddle. The Cossacks' aims were simple 
and if, on occasions, they used their horses hard, they never tor- 
tured them the way the artificially ambitious West did by per- 
sistent and complicated schooling. As a matter of fact, there was 
no schooling at all in our sense of the world, but just the primi- 
tive breaking of a herd horse to the saddle. 

This simple form of riding may even produce quite substan- 
tial sporting results. Harrison Salisbury, in one of his articles 
on Outer Mongolia, in the 1959 New York Times, describes 
a junior cross-country race. Four hundred and forty children, 
six to fourteen years old, participated in this race, some twenty- 
eight miles long, over cattle trails in the open fields, and only a 
handful failed to finish. 

With such riding still very much a part even of the European 
Russian scene in my days, it was natural for Russian horsemen 
to become enthusiastic about the Italian method. At the time 
the articles quoted above were written there were already a few 
followers of Caprilli among sportsmen in our cavalry. By the 
time of Fill is' retirement the prestige his army method had 
formerly enjoyed was considerably diminished. Had there been 
no revolution, the old army would probably have altered its 
riding method in the twenties. 


Federico Caprilli 

At the beginning of this book I wrote, "Something new and 
important has happened in the riding world in the course of 
our century, that is the sudden rise of interest in competitive 
jumping/' The chapters that followed described how and why 
educated riding in the Western world changed its forms, its 
uses and its exponents over the period from the 16th century 
to the beginning of the 20th. Now the story has reached the 
point at which riding has taken a really different road. 

Before starting to describe contemporary riding, I would 
like to survey briefly what was accomplished in jumping in 
previous centuries. If one wishes to be laconic one may simply 
say: "Nothing/' 

You will remember that even de la Gu6riniere in the 18th 
century was still repeating what de la Broue taught at the end 
of the 16th. The first mention of jumping in French cavalry 
regulations appears in 1788, and it does not say much. Baucher 
in the 19th century wrote only four pages on the subject, sug- 
gesting, among other things, that "Hop" uttered at the moment 
when the horse should take off would give him the necessary 
encouragement. Then he explained how the rider, with a "soft 
opposition of hands, should help the horse to lift the front," 
and how the hands should act again to hold the horse up in 
landing. The idea of lifting the horse over the jump has per- 


sis ted for a long time; even now one occasionally hears people 
seriously discussing it. It was prevalent long before Baucher's 
time. As early as 1 762 the previously quoted Earl of Pembroke 
advised that in jumping "the riders must keep their bodies 
back, raise their hands a little in order to help the foreparts of 
the horse up. . . ." 

Strangely enough, the Count d' Aure, who, as you may remem- 
ber, actually promoted 'cross-country riding, does not include 
even a short chapter on jumping in his TRAITE D'QUITATION. 
Fifty years later Fillis wrote: "If the horse, when jumping, 
raises his forehand a great deal, as in a half-rear, the rider 
ought to lean proportionately forward at the moment the horse 
raises himself; . . . but as the horse comes down, he should 
bring his body back, for three reasons: first, not to be thrown 
forward by the propulsion given by the horse; second, to lighten 
the forehand, which on coming to the ground will have to bear 
all the weight of both horse and rider; and third, to keep his 
seat and support his horse in case the animal's forelegs give 
way." (BREAKING AND RIDING, Hurst and Blackett, Ltd., London, 

I do not have to tell you that none of the reasons alleged 
for sitting backxvard on the landing comply with those laws of 
nature that govern the movements of living beings on this 
planet. In the first place there is no propulsion during the 
downward flight of the jump; in the second, no matter what 
position the rider may assume, the full, combined weight of 
horse and rider will still be borne by the first leg to land; 
thirdly, the rider cannot do anything to help a horse whose 
"forelegs give way" in landing. A monkey riding on your shoul- 
ders could not help you, either, if you stumbled, by jerking 
and pulling on your mouth, or by leaning back. 

Fillis* suggestion to lean forward at the take-off, which was 
then generally practiced by the European military (although 


not in the way we do it today), created doubts in the minds of 
many amateurs: 

"According to military instruction the body is to be inclined 
forward as the horse rises and backwards as the horse alights, 
but that is a feat that only a long-practiced horseman can per- 
form. The chances are that the pupil who attempts it, if he 
does not get a black eye or a bruised nose from the horse's 
neck, will find himself jumped out of the saddle from not 
having timed his change to the backward motion accurately/' 

The same pamphlet gives the recipe for safe jumping: 
"When a horse leaps he throws the unprepared rider forward. 
The object then is to resist or neutralize, by his position in 
the saddle, the impetus forward created by the horse's bound. 
As the horse approaches the leap the rider should bend his body 
back, from the hips upward over the cantle of the saddle, while 
keeping his seat firmly in its place by the grip of his legs and 
thighs. At a great down jump the best horsemen almost touch 
the horse's croup/' (From a pamphlet published, in 1891, by 
Mark W. Cross & Co., Saddlers.) 

People in those days did not know what good jumping was 
(pictures of the time illustrate this), and consequently did not 
have any idea what kind of work on the flat would prepare the 
horse for jumping. In general, it can be said that all horses of 
pre-Caprilli days approached and jumped obstacles badly, and 
to riders of those days the possibility of being criticized because 
of a slightly late take-off, or because of a stiff jump, or because 
of the horse star-gazing on the apex o the jump would have 
seemed preposterous. 

The English at least did not bother with all these details 
of technique; they put the emphasis on something else: 

"There is no denying that our friend is a capital horseman, 
and bold as need be. 'The King of the Golden Mines/ with 
a workman on his back, can hardly be defeated by any obstacle 


that the power and spring of a quadruped ought to surmount. 
He has tremendous stride, and no less courage than his master, 
so fence after fence is thrown behind the happy pair with a 
sensation like flying that seems equally gratifying to both/' 
(RIDING RECOLLECTIONS, by G. J. Whyte-Melville, London, 

I introduced Fillis' thoughts on jumping as an example of 
how ignorant the 19th century was in this matter, for Fillis 
after all was probably the best among many other manege riders 
of the period who tried to adapt classical riding to purposes 
other than High School. These half-reformers were quite un- 
able efficiently to solve the problem of jumping and fast cross- 
country riding; these types of riding, since they had little or 
nothing in common with manege riding, had to be developed 
on an entirely different basis. As you know, the problem was 
ingeniously solved in Italy, by Captain Federico Caprilli. 

Captain Caprilli was born in 1868 and died only thirty-nine 
years later. He began to work on his completely new method 
of riding for the cavalry in about 1897. After several years' 
struggle with the old-fashioned army brass, Caprilli finally won 
out, and from 1904 on he was teaching and experimenting in 
the Italian Cavalry School at Pinerolo. A year or so later his 
method was adopted by the Italian cavalry. 

Because his theories were based on the natural mechanics of 
the horse's movements, he obviously had to spend a great deal 
of time observing free horses in motion, and he found many 
different ways to do this. For instance: 

"His most original combination of duty and play was the 
fitting to the back of his favorite mare his inseparable com- 
panion in experiments of a straw-stuffed dummy of the kind 
used in all armies for sabre or bayonet practice. Left to her 
own devices in the Tor di Quinto stable yard with his life-size 


puppet on her back, the mare entered wholeheartedly into the 
spirit of a game of tag with the captain's troopers, while Caprilli 
studied her movements in her efforts to escape the encircling 
soldiers, and the mannikin's reaction thereto/ 5 (THE FORWARD 
IMPULSE, by Captain Piero Santini, originally published in 
1936. Quotations are from Country Life, Ltd. edition, 1951, 

Caprilli, furthermore, was an even greater student of the 
horse's psychology, as is evident throughout the few pages he 

Caprilli's biographers usually intimate that he was a gay 
blade but a poor student in school. The latter evidently indi- 
cated an aversion for the printed word because, unfortunately 
for us, he wrote very little a few articles which total only sev- 
enteen single-spaced typewritten pages. These were published 
in 1901 in the cavalry journal, the Rivista di Cavalleria, under 
the title, "Principi di Equitazione di Campagna," "Principles 
of Cross-country Equitation/' 

In substance these articles combine a presentation of the 
fundamental principles of his method with arguments against 
the existing army method. They are not well constructed, but 
are rambling, repetitious and much too brief. All that Caprilli 
said was to be said much better and more profoundly later on; 
yet these writings comprise an historical document of great 
importance. I shall quote the paragraphs which seem to me 
to be the most significant. They may not bring you any new 
ideas; you may have heard them all before; and many of you 
probably have never ridden in any other way than that herein 
recommended perhaps without knowing where and how it all 
started. This, however, is the first tentative formulation of 
Forward Riding: 

"The military horse must be essentially accustomed to the 


field, since it is here that the cavalry must perform in war 
uneven and varying terrain should be as familiar to the rider 
as it is to the horse. . . . 

"I call a field horse a horse that is of good disposition, calm 
and confident in the rider, fast and strong, accustomed to gal- 
loping for long periods over any kind of terrain, calm and alert 
in difficulty. . . . 

"Long years of practice and of continual observation have 
convinced me that the horse acquires these qualities without 
effort provided that the rider subjects him to rational and un- 
interrupted training, throughout which he tries to make his 
own actions the least disturbing that he can to the horse, and 
tries not to impede him m the natural development of his apti- 
tudes and energies. ... By this I do not mean to say that one 
should let the horse do as he pleases; one should, instead, if 
necessary persuade him with firmness and energy to do the 
rider's will, while leaving him full liberty to avail himself of 
and to use as best it suits him his balance and his strength. 
From this fundamental and unchanging principle stem all th 
practical rules of equitation with which I shall deal. . . . 

". . . the first rule of good riding is that of reducing, simpli- 
fying and sometimes, if possible, even eliminating the action 
of the rider. If the hands are used to turn and check a horse, 
and the legs to make him move forward and to give him reso- 
lution and decisiveness this is enough . . . 

"If natural work is required of a horse [field work] and not 
artificial [manege work] he will be better able to make use of 
his impulses, instincts and his natural balance . . . 

". . . the horse who has rational exercise, during which he 
is allowed to balance himself as he pleases, not being punished 
with needless suffering, developes in the most efficient fashion, 
with great advantage to his way of carrying himself, and be- 
comes docile and submissive to the wishes of the rider. 


"... in order to accustom horses to the field without ruining 
them and making them bad-tempered, one must always profit 
by the natural instincts of the animal substantiating his move- 
ments and way of going, and one must give him the least pos- 
sible discomfort in the mouth, loins and ribs. One must abolish 
the forced position of balance, and any action of the horse's 
legs beyond that which is essential to move him forward. 

"In consequence, we shall have no more riders who ruin 
horses by trying to undertake work that they are not fit to ask 
of a horse, and that, even if well done and properly asked, not 
only is of no advantage but is actually harmful to the true work 
the horse should perform/' 

In his treatment of jumping Caprilli was the first to appre- 
ciate the horse's natural physical efforts and the importance of 
not interfering with them. He also realized that a horse who 
is not apprehensive of his rider over the jump will be in a 
much better frame of mind for doing the job. All in all, in the 
following few paragraphs Caprilli said more pertinent things 
about jumping than had all the horsemen of the past put 

"The jump ... is the one action of a horse in which he 
changes his balance and his attitude most markedly, and many 
times in the space of a few seconds. One should therefore re- 
quire of the rider a certain tact and firmness in the saddle in 
order to second the horse and not disturb him with the hands 
and weight of the body. 

"It is necessary that a horse approaching the obstacle should 
learn not to fear the action of the rider and that he should 
be persuaded that the rider will always give him the freedom 
to jump and will not interfere or hurt him to no purpose. 
Under contrary circumstances the horse, instead of paying 
attention to doing his work well, will concentrate on avoiding 






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"In order that the horse may acquire a habit o confidence 
in his rider and not fear his actions, it is preferable to exercise 
the horse mounted rather than on a lunge, that is if one is 
sure of riding properly. 

". . . the rider will try above all to develope the eye; by eye 
I mean the ability of the horse to choose with precision and 
assurance the moment of the take-off. This, to me, is the most 
important quality one can require of a jumper and a quality 

The Progress of the Forward Seat. 

Left top shows Caprilli during his first experiments with the Forward 
Seat. (From MODERN HORSEMANSHIP, by Colonel Paul Rodzianko, Seeley 
Service & Co. Ltd., London, n.d.) 

Left bottom shows his pupil demonstrating an already more evolved 
form of it. (From the RUSSIAN CAVALRY MESSENGER, 1906.) 

Both pictures were taken before 1906. 

Above taken a score or so of years later, shows an Italian officer exhibit- 
ing the final perfected form of the forward position. (From RIDING RE- 
FLECTIONS by Captain Piero Santini, The Deirydale Press, New York, 1932.) 


partly natural and partly acquired. The horse acquires it, in- 
deed, with long practise over obstacles gradually raised, bait 
never too high, in which the rider leaves him free and com- 
pletely on his own, approaching the obstade at a moderate 
pace . . . 

"To assist the horse, as some riders would like to do, on 
the jump is a very difficult thing to do at the proper time, and 
even if it is properly timed, it still produces, to my way of 
thinking, a bad result. It may indeed happen that the horse, 
in fear of this help, will rush the last stride and seriously en- 
danger the performance. The good jumper does not want help 
at the jump, because he already knows, looking at the obstacle, 
how much strength he will need to negotiate it without the 
exertion of any superfluous pressure: mediocre and inexperi- 
enced jumpers can be improved by means of rational and 
continued practice, and not by the use of help or other forcible 
methods. Sometimes, in exceptional cases, help may be useful 
during the last two or three seconds of the gallop and at the 
moment when the horse is about to take off, if he shows signs 
of holding back his strength by a moment of hesitation. How- 
ever, one must always be very careful and use the aids only in 
an opportune manner/' 

In order to clarify the order of historical events, I shall quote 
a few paragraphs in which Caprilli criticizes the Italian army 
method of the period preceding his reform. This is, I think, 
necessary, because there are those who claim that Caprilli's 
work was begun by Cesare Paderno, one of Caprilli's prede- 
cessors in the cavalry school. Paderno, by education a High 
School rider, was evidently, like Fillis, aware of the importance 
of cross-country riding for the army. And, judging from the 
following remarks of Caprilli, he persuaded the Italian cavalry 
of the necessity of training in open country. But he obviously 
did not offer anything radically new, beyond those simplifica- 
tions of manege principles usual in the period. 


"I readily admit that in recent times a strong current in 
a new direction is to be noticed in our army, but the means 
used to implement it remain insufficient and conflicting. 

"I marvel that with this goal understood and admitted, i.e., 
that field riding should be the ultimate aim of the cavalry, 
they continue to want to teach a soldier a type of equitation 
whose principles are diametrically opposed to those of that 
which must be called the school of field riding itself, and while 
they consider the latter a necessary corollary, they still consider 
it no more than a necessary corollary to manege equitation. 

"It seems to me that our rules do not present with sufficient 
clarity the ideas and principles that I have just pointed out; 
wishing to conserve too many precepts of a refined and by 
now antiquated equitation, they do not give enough of what, 
since it is more consistent with actual needs, I would call 
modern equitation. What follows is therefore an inevitable 
mixture of old and new, with a prevalence of the former over 
the latter. 

"Things cannot go on in this manner. In fact manege riding 
presents such difficulties and so many demands, such fine tact 
in practice that it is impossible that a soldier, considering the 
brevity of his enlistment and the variety of his other instruc- 
tion, should succeed in learning its principles and applying 
them properly. 

"... a horse 'in hand* in the manege is not a horse 'in hand' 
in the field; instead he will often be out of hand precisely in 
those places where the soldier must be complete master of his 

On the basis of the principles quoted above, Caprilli con- 
structed a complete method of riding that is, a method 
consisting of three integral parts: schooling, controlling, and 
sitting a horse. Many people today fail to appreciate this, and 
believe that all Gaprilli did was to invent the Forward Seat. 
The seat is really only a part of the method, which is dedicated 


primarily to schooling and controlling the horse on the basis 
of his natural balance and his natural way of going; the For- 
ward Seat merely unites the rider with a horse that moves 
naturally. However, since the seat is a relatively mechanical 
conception, it is easily understood in our mechanical age, while 
the nature of the horse, both physical and psychological, is 
much less obvious to anyone but a person who has lived with 

Although Caprilli evidently taught the Forward Seat very 
efficiently, he did not in 1901 describe it precisely. The fact 
that he knew how to teach it is evident, for instance, from the 
two following paragraphs that he wrote against the standard 
exercise of manege teaching riding without stirrups. 

"The field rider strengthens his position by practice in the 
open, because it is there that he learns how he can best regu- 
late his balance for security during various movements and 
attitudes of the horse; he does not, as generally believed, 
strengthen it by long exercise without stirrups. 

"... Furthermore, the balance of a rider without stirrups is 
completely different from that which he must have with stir- 
rups; in the end the rider must thoroughly learn the proper 
use of stirrups, so that he will not periodically bang the back 
of his horse and so that he can make himself light/' 

Caprilli's notes touched upon all aspects of cross-country rid- 
ing and I say again that it is a pity that he never wrote later 
in life, after he had had a chance to experiment with his 
method on a large scale. Much of his teaching had to be 
handed down by word of mouth by his pupils, some of whom, 
in their turn, instructed at the Italian cavalry school. The 
absence of a complete and final version of his method in writ- 
ing led, of course, to various interpretations of his system 

How much of Caprilli's thinking was completely original 


and how much was borrowed from writings and examples of 
other horsemen is hard to say. As you will remember, the idea 
of developing the natural way of going of a horse had already 
been expressed in the second half of the 18th century by a 
French cavalry officer, the Baron de Bohan. And many separate 
points of the Forward Seat had been described one hundred 
years before Caprilli, by an English riding teacher, John 
Adams. The great American jockey, Tod Sloan, was riding 
a version of the forward seat shortly before the advent of the 
Italian method. And we should not forget that Russian Cos- 
sacks, well-known in Europe, and various other horse-raising 
peoples of the Eurasian steppes had ridden forward for centu- 
ries. The English foxhunter also, although he usually sat 
badly, at least tried to ride on the principle of free going. None 
evolved, however, a rounded, educated method of riding across 
country. There is no question but that this honor belongs to 
Caprilli and to the Italian Cavalry School of sixty years ago. 
A Russian cavalry officer, P. Krassnoff, who paid a week- 
long visit to Pinerolo a few months before Caprilli's death, 
described the experience in three articles in the 1907 Russian 
Cavalry Messenger. Krassnoff, with the easy pen with which he 
depicted life in the school, portrayed the officers, the soldiers, 
etc. From all this rich material I shall quote only the parts 
that are pertinent to our subject, particularly the descriptions 
of a lesson in the ring and in the training field and of a cross- 
country ride. 

Krassnoff wrote about a class of non-commissioned officers 
schooling young horses in a large covered ring: ". . . all the 
horses were on snaffles. All the riders worked very softly with 
the reins, never attempting to collect their horses, but follow- 
ing the movements of the horses* heads with the reins . . . 
they rode individually in separate directions, avoiding sharp 


turns, making no circles at a trot; later they worked at a 
canter. The riders aimed as was obvious from the corrections 
of the officer at keeping all the horses moving at the same 
medium-speed canter . . . and they did not pay any attention 
to the lead, but looked only for calmness and evenness . . . the 
gait was not beautiful, but it was wonderfully soft and even, 
and completely relaxed in the whole class. In the meantime a 
short log was laid on the ground and the horses individually 
(not in a class) began to jump over it. After this the class 
walked, and one of the attendants brought a small basket of 
oats and each of the riders in turn approached it and gave 
their horses a fistful or two of oats. ..." 

Krassnoff described the open schooling field a couple of 
miles away from the school stables: 

"This field was about three miles in circumference. All of 
it was thickly overgrown with nut-trees and acacia; among 
these, three intersecting avenues were cut up to 600' wide; 
along these were placed obstacles. . . . When I trotted to the 
green clearing with Captain Count Fe d'Ostiani . . . about 
ten non-commissioned officers were riding there with a young 
officer . . . they quietly galloped over the field, jumping the 
various obstacles. The unusual softness of their hands was 
striking, as well as the complete yielding of the reins to the 
point of letting them slide between the fingers. This was 
refined, sensible riding. Horses were controlled but never 
interfered with. The refinements of riding could be clearly 
seen when they jumped in rows of four always perfectly lined 
up and preserving accurate intervals between the horses." 

Krassnoff could hardly forget the time when he was given 
a horse, and in the company of Italian officers, rode across 

" 'Imagine/ Lieutenant Starita said to me, 'that we repre- 
sent a scouting party, that the enemy is all around us, and 


all the roads are occupied by him. From that hill/ Starita 
pointed to a high, rocky hill overgrown with thick woods, 'we 
would be able to see all of the surrounding country, and to 
count every one of the enemy's men. And it would not occur 
to anyone that there, on the summit, there could be a mounted 
man. But we can get there only if unobserved. Let us try it/ 

"We plunged into a fresh thicket of acacia and at a soft, 
calm trot crossed the copse, disregarding the prickly branches 
that struck us. The cover led to a stony stream bed below. This 
channel could hide us well. 'Head your horse straight across' 
another officer, Acerba, who rode at my side said, 'and drop the 
reins, the mare knows what to do/ We stood at the granite 
facing of the brook which was some eight feet high, descending 
at a 65 degree angle into the swift water of the stream. 'This 
is the way to do it/ And turning his horse straight at the drop, 
Acerba squeezed with his legs; his horse lined up its front 
legs and began quickly to slide down. . . . My Gorilla,, left 
to herself, did the same. . . . Stringing along single file, we rode 
into the water among the huge boulders of the stream/' 

Later, Krassnoff tells how in the course of this ride they 
"were galloping fast for a while across a field. At the end of 
the field we approached a hill overgrown with trees. Up the 
hill led a path, which I ascended with great difficulties later 
when dismounted, helping myself by catching hold of branches 
and grass. Along this path, like goats, large thoroughbreds and 
halfbreds were now moving. Only when the path would make 
a too risky turn above the precipice, Acerba, riding ahead, 
would shout to me 'drop the reins, be quiet/ But I already 
trusted the good animal. Holding her head low, with hur- 
ried, but sure steps, breathing easily, Gorilla climbed the 
mountain. . . . 

" 'And now let us assume/ said Starita, 'that we are 
observed. We must get away/ Frankly ... I thought that we 


would be looking for another path winding around this rock. 
But not so. The same 'drop the reins' and we are descending 
through the scrub with a slow but sure walk. But soon the 
bushes are behind. In front of us drops a 60 degree slope at 
least 1800" long, which ends in a perpendicular wall, about 
\\/g high, separating us from the road. 'Keep your horse 
straight 1 shout the officers, and, one after another, we roll 
down . . . small stones, jumping and hopping, fly ahead of 
us here is the stone wall my horse jumps and we are on 
the road." 

There were other similar situations during this ride which 
I omit for fear of being repetitious. This ride Krassnoff called 
the "Italian High School." 

Krassnoff thus summarized the teaching at Pinerolo: 

"All the riding is done entirely on a snaffle. Only in cases of 
particularly difficult horses is it permitted to use a mild curb, 
and then for a short time only. 

"Particular attention is paid by all the teachers to the hand 
and reins. The hand must follow the reins, the reins should 
follow the horse's mouth. . . . 

"The horses are always worked mounted and never in class 
formation. The lunge is used in jumping in exceptional cases 
only and jumping in a corral is permitted solely in cases 
of unable horses. If the rider does not interfere with the 
horse, say the Italians, he will jump as well under the rider 
as without him. 

"They begin a young horse's work in the ring, but do not 
force him into corners, avoiding turns and any kind of bending 
in the ribs; they work on almost loose reins. 

"Jumping is begun in the ring over low but solid obstacles 
... at the height of the season every horse jumps forty 
obstacles during a lesson. As the horse progresses he is worked 
more and more often in the field. 


"It all ends with swimming. 

"In July examinations are held . . . the schooling examina- 
tion consists of work in the ring, work in the training field 
and, finally, in a cross-country ride similar to the one that I 

Thus 20th century riding for sport began on the basis of a 
method conceived originally for the army. 

Judging by the fact that only a handful of officers of other 
countries came to study in Italy before the First World War, 
the new method was not enthusiastically received by many 
armies. Between 1906 and 1914 (the beginning of the First 
World War) only five foreign cavalrymen took the year-long 
course in Pinerolo, while fourteen others went to Tor di 
Quinto (the finishing branch of the cavalry school) for the 
winter season of cross-country riding, foxhunting and steeple- 
chasing. The largest number of officers (six) was detailed by 
Bulgaria, while from Spain and Roumania each came three. 
The major European powers, France, Germany and Austria 
did not have any representatives, while Russia had one, who 
came on his own I believe, as a sportsman, with the consent 
of the army of course. This, significantly, points out that large 
armies, with a correspondingly large number of conservatively- 
minded generals, steeped in tradition and the bureaucratic 
attitude of large organizations, would naturally strongly op- 
pose new ideas. 

I do not know what was happening at the time within other 
European armies, but in Russia an uneven struggle soon began 
between the young officers and their commanders. While the 
army was liberal enough to permit the printing of some pro- 
Italian articles in the Russian Cavalry Messenger, the opposi- 
tion to new ideas on occasion took forms which would be 
considered inadmissable among sportsmen. For instance, in 
1913 at the Moscow horse show in what we would call an open 


jumping class, a regimental friend of mine made clean rounds 
on two horses. He had to jump off against three other horses, 
but was barred from this by the General (the commander of 
the district) who had donated the money prize ($250.00) for 
the event. The reason: "the monkey seat." 

Since the army opposed the new method, it naturally did 
not provide any courses in it. This absence of instruction, 
combined with the lack of sufficiently complete literature on 
the subject, resulted in the fact that most of us, who imagined 
ourselves "Italians," really knew very little about Caprilli's 
method. I actually learned it much later. 

The popularity of the Italian cavalry school in foreign lands 
greatly increased, however, during the twenties and thirties, 
in the course of which decades about a hundred foreign stu- 
dents from all over the world studied there. I believe that the 
great increase in interest in competitive jumping at the time 
had a lot to do with it, and I suspect that many students then 
went to the Italian cavalry school as sportsmen rather than 
as army officers. But more armies were now interested in 
changing their methods of riding than ever before; the 
experience of the Great War had taught many that the old 
method of manege riding was quite impractical for actual 
warfare. Furthermore, there were now several new armies. 

Europe emerged from the First World War with many 
changes in her map as well as in the social structure of various 
countries. Austria was split up, and Germany no longer an 
empire; Russia was fighting a civil war, and losing many of 
its border territories to newly formed states. The new small 
countries created by revolutions and peace treaties, such as 
Poland, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania and Hungary, 
were beginning their lives anew; they all sent officers to Italy. 
It was easier for them to do this, since the organizing of their 


new armies was not in the hands of a long-established and 
consistently conservative high command. 

This, by the way, is perhaps the explanation why the Italian 
army accepted Caprilli's proposed method so comparatively 
easily. Only some forty years before his time in the cavalry 
school, Italy still consisted of several separate states, and its 
north was in Austrian hands. It is quite possible that we 
would never have heard of Caprilli had he been born in one 
of the old militaristic countries, with a large cavalry and long- 
established equestrian traditions. 

It seems quite right and fitting that the country that gave 
birth to the first system of manege equitation should also have 
produced modern methods of jumping and cross-country rid- 
ing. On the surface it may appear paradoxical that the two 
forms of educated riding we know should have been fathered 
by a land that is basically not horse country at all in the sense 
of using or breeding horses widely. 

On second glance, however, the paradox tends to disappear. 
The first manifestation in the Renaissance may be attributed 
to the fact that the Italians were the first modern Europeans 
to think much about anything, and to the number of small 
luxurious courts there that were the very settings to foster 
manege riding. As for the ease with which Caprilli's method 
was accepted at the beginning of this century, that may have 
been due not only to the circumstances in the army already 
mentioned, but also to the fact itself that Italy was not a 
horse country. She did not have, even among civilian riders, 
the strong traditions and prejudices that are apt to obtain in 
any large body of sportsmen. The Italian character is, more- 
over, flexible and accommodating, and would have had less 
difficulty in yielding to innovation than some more dogged, 
Northern natures. 



Since Caprilli 

In a way, it should be very easy for me to describe what 
has happened in riding during our century I know it so well. 
On the other hand, it may be difficult to take a large and 
unprejudiced view of events which are so recent, and in which 
one has been so deeply involved. Although confident that 
I shall be able to present the current development of riding 
purely factually, I am afraid that, while trying hard to be 
objective, personal feelings may sometimes color my appraisal 
of events. 

The theme of this book hardly calls for a detailed descrip- 
tion of the complex of social and historical differences that 
distinguished this century from the preceding ones. It might, 
however, be appropriate to mention a few of those that have 
strongly influenced present equestrian sport. 

The two largest wars in history, several revolutions, the 
reduction of empires, the emergence of new nations, the 
increasingly rapid development of technology, and the resultant 
general dwindling of the 19th century social structure have 
altered the thinking, the ideals, and the mode of living of 
large sections of the world's population. 

In the Western world, the aristocracy has practically ceased 
to play any important role, while the old wealthy bourgeoisie 
has also lost much of its prestige. Armies, while larger than 


ever today, no longer possess a horse cavalry. Their influence is 
waning, although it continues because of the active participa- 
tion of some former cavalry officers in contemporary civilian 
riding. All this means that those categories of people that prac- 
ticed and developed the educated riding of the past have ceased 
or will soon cease to influence it. 

The aristocratic High School of the 17th and 18th centuries 
has no real practical place in life anymore; today it may inter- 
est only those few who have the time, money, and tenacious 
temperament to practice it as a pure art with an occasional 
competition to enliven the academic monotony. The 19th 
century argument over the manner in which armies should 
ride is now, since mounted cavalries no longer exist, a matter 
belonging to history. New ways of life and new people, with a 
new outlook on practically everything, have changed the forms 
and ideals of riding, turning every branch of equitation into 
competitive sport. 

At the beginning of this book I stated that the 20th century 
made a new contribution to riding competitive jumping and 
while today different kinds of riding are practiced simultane- 
ously in the United States, jumping is the one that is growing 
the fastest. Jumping in different forms now knows no regional 
boundaries and is practiced all over the country. It is the form 
of riding most discussed and most written about. I know many 
people to whom the most interesting part of foxhunting is 
jumping. I also know some who suffer through the dressage 
phase of "Horse Trials," or the program ride of a "Complete 
Test for Hunters," merely for the opportunity to compete 
over obstacles in the other phases. This holds true not only 
in this country. A friend of mine, a former French cavalry 
officer who teaches riding in France and who knows the 
French equestrian scene very well, has complained to me that 
young people there don't care about learning good riding on 


the flat; all they want to do is to jump, jump, jump. I have 
heard the same recently from several other French and Eng- 
lish horsemen, and I heard it long ago from an instructor in 
Tor Di Quinto. A glance at the pages of European equestrian 
magazines will convince you of this. 

The usual explanation of this phenomenon is that in a fast- 
moving century of strenuous sports in general, only a fast and 
venturesome type of riding can capture the imagination of 
young people. This is unquestionably so. But certainly the 
Italian method, which has at once simplified and improved 
jumping for both men and horses, has had something to do 
with it. 

Although I have already said somewhere that more people 
today have more time for riding, and in another place that 
no one has as much time to devote to it as formerly, this is 
not really as contradictory as it sounds. It is true that shorter 
working hours and labor-saving devices of all kinds, from dish- 
washing machines to frozen blue-plate suppers, have given 
the majority of people more leisure than ever before. At the 
same time a host of opportunities, distractions, and obligations 
have rushed in to eat up that leisure. With an automobile 
at the door it is harder to get out of going to P.T.A. and 
committee meetings, or helping with charity drives; there is no 
excuse for not taking the children to the beach when a fine 
day comes along, and less than there used to be for not dining 
with friends thirty miles away. Children take all sorts of 
extra lessons and go to many parties to which they have to 
be driven. Parents take on civic duties, garden clubs, and half 
a dozen different sports. Thus, although more people have 
more time, there are more demands on it; and the few people 
who always had time find the time that they once could spend 
quietly at home, or in the saddle, broken up by dozens of 
different calls on it. The fact that it requires less time to be 


good at jumping than at dressage of corresponding quality 
has unquestionably helped to promote the popularity of the 

Another characteristic of modern life the stress on sim- 
plicity and informality in the home, in clothing and in man- 
ners, and on efficiency in general has led us far away in every 
respect from the elaborate living and riding of the past. We 
want everything we do to possess these modern virtues. 
The idea of efficiency has even created a certain concept of 
beauty. Today to most of us a beautiful horse is the one that 
is a good machine. Performance, a word once associated almost 
exclusively with the stage, has now come to mean what a 
machine can accomplish for you and how well it can do it. 
We talk about the performance of a car. Just so, the "per- 
formance* ' of a horse today means his ability to cover a course 
or to follow hounds efficiently. With the workmanlike replac- 
ing the elaborate our ideals of beauty have changed. 

No competitive riding of today could take the simple 
empirical forms that satisfied the old English sportsman. Our 
approach to all sports has become analytical and technical. 
Better education in general, the premium on education in 
every field of human activity, and the rise of "physical educa- 
tion" have conditioned minds and influenced sports as well. 
This process, you will remember, was already beginning in 
the second half of the 19th century, but was given great 
impetus by the rapid progress of practical science in our times. 
So quite naturally the mechanics of the horse's movements 
and of his balance continued to be analyzed in this century. 
By the thirties, we at last had sufficient knowledge of the 
horse's efforts in jumping to begin, on the basis of physiology, 
to construct a method of schooling and of riding a jumper. 

In the new techniques, for the first time, a humane approach 


to the horse played a significant role. Earlier forcible means of 
making the horse jump, without suitable preparation on the 
flat, upset the animal and could obtain good results only in 
rare cases. A horse can jump his best only when he is frightened 
of neither the obstacle nor his rider. A horse must be in a 
calm frame of mind if he is to be physically alert without 
being tense. Calmness in a jumping horse has been achieved by 
the new method of schooling on the flat and over obstacles. 
While you may remember that many of the outstanding 
masters of the past recommended gentleness and persuasion 
as opposed to force, Caprilli was the first to base his method 
exclusively on consideration of the animal. In his case even 
the rider's position was conceived for the comfort of the horse. 
This considerate attitude which, it may be observed, is still 
not as widespread or as consistent as it might be, is relatively 
new on the part of the general public and has been brought 
about by several factors. 

The work of the humane societies over the past hundred 
years has, of course, made people more aware of animal 
suffering; the fact that the horse, being no longer a necessity, 
is more of a pet than a utilitarian article has led to a less 
cold-blooded approach to him; and we are no longer in the 
habit of generally using strong coercive measures. After all, 
in those times not so long ago, when school masters and 
parents still birched children or locked them up on bread 
and water for minor disobediences, when men sometimes beat 
their wives and their servants, and when soldiers were punished 
by flogging to within an inch of their lives, consideration was 
not a part of man's attitude towards his "inferiors," human 
or animal. This, unfortunately, does not mean that many 
horses still do not suffer as a result of callousness, neglect, or 
even wanton cruelty or from the perhaps even more common 


abuse due to horse owners' and riders* ignorance o what may 
cause suffering in an organism so differently made from 

The striking results achieved by better riders with a com- 
bination of scientific techniques and a humane approach to 
riding have turned jumping into an art as great in its way as 
High School ever was. And for the first time in the history of 
equitation the representatives of a new form of riding do not 
claim that it may be helpful in other equestrian sports. This 
is, of course, because we live in a century of specialization, and 
it is quite natural for us to specialize. If all horsemen have 
not yet fully embraced this point of view, it is simply because 
riding, with its traditional conservatism, has always lagged 
somewhat behind the times. 

Another factor has contributed to the rapid improvement in 
jumping achieved in the course of this century: the better 
horseflesh we have at our service today. The cumulative effects 
of selective breeding are now enabling more people than ever 
before to have good horses. The better the horse (when prop- 
erly selected for the task), the simpler and shorter the schooling, 
in most cases. This has proved to be of great importance in a 
century when few of us have enough free time for the long and 
complicated routine of schooling practiced in former days. 
Also the fact that training for jumping may be relatively 
simple undoubtedly partly accounts for the popularity of this 
sport. Obstacles can be negotiated quite acceptably and effi- 
ciently, up to a certain standard, by an amateur who works on 
the basis of making the most of the horse's natural abilities, 
with relatively little schooling added, in comparison with the 
preparatory work required for manege riding of comparable 
competence in former days. 

The slow-motion-picture camera has played an important 
role in our better understanding of the mechanics of the horse's 


movements in general, and of the horse's efforts in jumping 
in particular. Much of what Caprilli guessed at we now know. 
Photography has contributed to better riding in other ways: 
today, with the help of the Polaroid camera, an instructor 
is able to show his pupils during the lesson itself how they 
look in the saddle or how their horses perform. It is much 
easier to judge oneself by quietly studying a photograph than 
by trying to watch oneself in a mirror while moving around 
a ring the only means once available. Today we are so accus- 
tomed to books on riding illustrated by photographs and to 
"visual education" that it seems rather strange to read the 
subtitle of a book published in 1889, AN ORIGINAL METHOD 

Photographs (moving or still) of the horse one is schooling 
are also a great help: only a really experienced trainer can 
judge his horse's movement accurately from the saddle. These 
photographs also form a record by which to measure progress. 

Press photography has both helped and hindered good riding. 
While it has enabled people all over the country to observe 
the form of famous riders or of merely successful amateurs 
(and an ideal to copy is one of the strongest factors In mould- 
ing taste) it has too often chosen unfortunate or awkward 
moments over a jump. Occasionally it has encouraged riders 
to emulate some talented but erratic and sensational showman 
with far from "perfect form,"and frequently abusive riding. 

Photography in the form of "Westerns" on the screen and 
on television has romanticized the horse and made many young 
people "horse crazy." The fast and risky riding shown in these 
pictures (although far from the sober actuality) combined with 
a violent plot, present life around the horse in a way that is 
a far cry from the gentility of the last century. No youngster 
today would be satisfied by walking around and around the 
ring merely improving the flexions of the horse's mouth. Even 



The motion picture camera has revealed the split-second phases of the different 
zaits of the horse that were invisible to the naked eyes of our grandfathers. It has 
thus presented modern horsemanship with a truly sound basis on which to build 
theory Countless points of practical value to a horseman can be easily observed 
when studying printed film strips. For instance, in view of the fact that some 
people still talk about collecting their horses during the approach to a jump, it is 
interesting to note that in this series of pictures the horse stretches his neck and 
head forward when nearing the obstacle and raises his hindquarters in order to 
engage his hindlegs. Both points are contradictory to collection, and both points 
have good mechanical reasons. 

In this series of pictures each frame represents 1/24 of a second. 

Courtesy of Miss Iris Winthrop 







' : ^^\^^^ 





v#J A#V^ 
./.,^i^*i^. M ,^i,^^ -4 


Courtesy of Mrs. Robert Jg, Carter, HI 

While the preceding film strips illustrated a complete jump from approach to 
galloping away, this one merely shows an instance of breaking from a trot into a 

The horse in shots numbers 1 and 2 is still at a regular trot. Disassociation of 
the diagonal pair of legs, right front and left hind, is already obvious in shot No. 6. 
By the last three shots the canter is established. 


educated riding was bound to be affected by the accelerated 
tempo of life. 

Another product of technology, the automobile, and the im- 
mense network of roads built for it, have made more shows 
possible, increased the size of some, brought mounts and 
riders from a very wide area together, and enabled riders 
to compete in literally ten times as many shows as they once 
could. And the horse show has played an extremely important 
role in developing better riding. 

Against this background has grown up a new era in equita- 
tion. In shaping it the Italian method of the beginning of the 
century exerted greater influence than any other school of 
thought, although the spread and development of Caprilli's 
ideas were retarded by two world wars and by the depression 
of the later twenties and the early thirties. It was only in the 
late forties and the fifties that 20th century riding acquired 
distinctive forms that were really widely practiced. 

These forms resulted from a combination of our riding 
inheritance from previous centuries, of modern thinking on 
the subject, and of the influence of the new circumstances of 
contemporary life. It is largely due to the latter that the 
Italian principles were differently interpreted in different coun- 
tries. While Caprilli's teaching was nowhere accepted without 
alteration, every nation assimilated some of his ideas and 
incorporated them into its traditional riding. The United 
States, since it lacked the traditions of reasoned equitation, 
and therefore clung much less to the past, could more easily 
than European nations think originally and change its riding 
radically. This is one of two reasons for switching the story 
now from Europe to America. My second reason is that from 
living here for almost forty years I know what has happened 
in the American riding world since the late twenties. Following 
my usual pattern I shall describe the riders and the teachers, 


attempt to explain why riding assumed certain forms and, 
finally, discuss current theories. Since jumping dominates the 
educated equestrian scene here today (and as a matter of fact 
in Europe as well), it will have to be the main subject. 

But what preceded jumping here? Prior to about 1930 the 
United States had made no contribution to educated riding. 
People here rode for pleasure at least as early as the beginning 
of the 18th century. But their riding in the hunting field and 
their racing merely followed English sporting traditions. Later, 
in the 19th century, when other than English influences made 
their appearance here and cities grew large, "park riding" and 
"musical rides" in the covered rings of riding clubs were 
common under the influence of dressage riding. The latter, 
however, was usually much simplified and often considerably 
corrupted in a provincial manner. It is rather recently that 
the world with the help of technology has become small, and 
that a large segment of the American population has become 
familiar with continental Europe. 

Wealthy Americans of the 19th century established many 
hunts and successfully promoted racing, steeplechasing and 
selective horse breeding, but they failed to become profoundly 
interested in the truly educated equitation then prevalent in 
the corresponding classes of continental European society. 
Only an individual here and there practiced dressage on the 
higher level. As a matter of fact ". . . in this country until 
very recently [1905] comparatively little interest was taken 
in riding except in some of the Southern states and in the 
army. . . ." (RIDING AND DRIVING by Edward I. Anderson, The 
Macmillan Company). 

Even in 1921, Miss Lida L. Fleitmann could write in her 
COMMENTS ON HACKS AND HUNTERS: "Over there [in England] 
every one, young and old, are sportsmen and horse lovers. It 
is part of a child's very education. To be a horseman over 


here stamps you as rather a freak. . . . The average American 
is not a horseman. ..." (Charles Scribner's Sons) 

Educated riding has taken hold here during the last twenty- 
five years or so. When it finally did, it took quite a new form, 
because by then times had changed. Today at least a claim can 
be made that in cross-country riding and jumping our juniors 
not only perform better and in a more uniform and elegant 
style than their European counterparts, but that they have 
been taught to think more clearly on the subject. Here is how 
it happened. 

One of the characteristics of today's life in the United States 
that has played a very important role in shaping equestrian 
sport has been the general increase in income, which has not 
only bettered standards of living, but has also changed peoples' 
attitudes toward life. With the help of the new security, plus 
Madison Avenue, the former habit of saving for old age has 
been replaced by maximum spending to enjoy life; everyone 
has taken a bigger bite of everything. Everywhere today where 
pleasure is to be had in golf or yacht clubs, on Florida 
beaches, on luxury liners are to be seen people whose 19th 
century ancestors would never have dreamt of such extrava- 
gance. This new attitude towards life has also manifested itself 
in offering children many new opportunities, both for educa- 
tion and for entertainment. Today more young people go to 
college, and more children than ever before take art or 
dancing or riding or skiing lessons, or go to summer camps. 

This process, which was already noticeable after the First 
World War, really snowballed after the second one. It is due 
primarily to this change in the forms of ordinary life that the 
number of people who participate in pleasure riding has 
increased so much in the course of the last fifteen years. This is 
true not only of the United States; on a different scale, the 
same thing is taking place in Europe. 


These new people on our equestrian scene have not merely 
Increased the number of riders, they have also been instru- 
mental in bettering riding techniques for the average. 

When I began teaching riding in America in the late twen- 
ties, I constantly met people who, since they belonged to 
families that had owned horses for two or three generations 
and had consequently ridden from childhood, believed that 
all that was necessary to be a good rider was to have a strong 
body, a bold character and a lot of experience (all undoubtedly 
valuable assets). If one had to have a few pointers at the begin- 
ning, the old family groom was the best person to give them. 
In those days, the distinction between a riding teacher and 
a riding groom was rather obscure. 

The new people, on the other hand, entering an unfamiliar 
field realized that they would have to learn the game. Many 
of them had succeeded in life because of education, and there 
was nothing upsetting to them in learning how to do some- 
thing; their children were brought up in the same spirit. 
Those who had gotten places on sheer ability often appre- 
ciated the value of education for their children, and were 
ambitious enough to offer them what they had missed 

Learning a sport leads usually to the desire to match one's 
skill with that of others in this case to participation in horse 
shows. It is easy not to be in sympathy with the over-competi- 
tive spirit that keeps many of our juniors indefinitely on the 
stage, and that has turned some of them into little "profes- 
sionals" at the age of sixteen. This is very different indeed 
from the 19th century, when the precept obtained that a lady's 
name should appear only three times on the pages of a news- 
paper: at birth, marriage and death. On the other hand, com- 
petition is directly responsible for the rise of standards in 



Photo by Maxine Rude 

A recent development in the riding field is children's caring for their 
horses. Although largely the result of the rising cost of labor, children 
have undoubtedly gained more than lost from this dismounted association 
with the animal, which teaches them much about a horse that helps them 
when they are back in the saddle. (This picture was taken at the "Junior 
Equitation School," Vienna, Va., and used by courtesy of Mrs. William 
Dillon, director of the school.) 

Their pupils* desire to win has obliged many riding teachers 
to learn more about riding and schooling. For instance, more 
than two hundred teachers alone have come to me in the 
course of years; some of these, in their turn, have taught other 
riding instructors. In many communities today a riding school 
that cannot produce winners will never reach the top. Thus 
the ball began rolling. 

Better performances, particularly in jumping, resulting in 
stiffer competition, called for more difficult conditions, and 


"twice around the ring" over four identical post-and-rail fences 
was replaced by courses of varied obstacles. Later on, these 
were influenced by international courses. These in turn re- 
quired still better riding and better schooled horses. The ball 
kept on rolling. 

The combination of knowledgeable teachers and knowl- 
edgeable exhibitors improved the judging considerably both 
because of the efforts of at least some of the old judges to 
keep pace with the times, and because the better educated 
younger generation was gradually joining the ranks of the 
judges. Better judging made the importance of learning more 
about riding even more obvious. 

Gradually the desire to ride better, primarily to win, influ- 
enced even uncompetitive country riding. Many riders who 
started out as exhibitors, perhaps as early as the age of ten, 
eventually took to foxhunting. The superior cross-country 
riding of some of these gradually exerted its beneficial influ- 
ence on at least the juniors in this sport. Or vice versa, many 
of those children who started riding in the hunting field 
sooner or later fell under the spell of showing, and were 
forced to better their riding, as well as the performance of 
their horses, in order to practice it successfully. Foxhunting 
alone has produced many competent riders, and it has always 
had its share of talented ones, but in former days it never 
aimed to develop fine techniques in the saddle. It is only 
recently that some hunts, promoting "Horse Trials/' and 
many more establishing Pony Clubs, with their rallies, have 
begun to sponsor certain standards in riding and schooling. 
Here again, competition has done it. 

A significant question arises here: why have our junior 
competitions taken such "artistic" forms? Why, today, do they 
all, except junior open jumping, such as Junior Olympics, etc. 
aim at beauty, rather than at spectacular achievements? Why 



Courtesy of Bernie Traurig 

There are many excellent junior riders in the horse show and hunting 
field today, and many of them are well mounted. 

The Forward Seat, uniting the horse and rider in motion, should not 
be a rigid mould, and it is interesting to compare the position of Bernie 
Traurig with that of my other pupil, Doctor Walter Kees, (shown on page 
291). The one, for instance, has a rounded, the other a hollowed back. 
Details of the design of the position may have to be adapted to the indi- 
vidual conformation of the rider and to the way of going of the horse. 
Pupils of the same teacher, while all reflecting the same school, should 
not necessarily all look alike. (Freudy Photos) 


are the horse's calmness, natural way of going, and his flowing 
performance such factors in winning a class? A long list of 
answers could be made to these questions. For instance, the 
old ideal of the way of going of a true working hunter has 
certainly had something to do with it, as well as the assimilation 
of at least some Italian ideas and, of course, the spread of 
educated techniques. But I believe that the participation of 
girls and women on a large scale has played a very important 
role. On the basis of experience I may say that in general, 
overlooking exceptions both ways, girls are more able riders 
than boys. There are several reasons for this. 

In the first place girls have more sympathy towards animals, 
and consequently understand them better than boys. They 
are more patient with horses, are more considerate of their 
individual characteristics, are always ready to make allowances 
for a misunderstanding. The average boy who meets resistance 
in a horse instinctively tries to solve the problem by force; 
a girl in the same predicament will try to win by persuasion. 
This trying to avoid a headlong collision with the horse often 
wins the day, while a straight fight rarely does. By nature also, 
girls are softer in anything they do, so they have greater poten- 
tialities for acquiring good hands; they have enough strength 
for the sport, but not so much as to be detrimental. And 
finally, a larger percentage of them have aesthetic sensibilities. 
They more easily appreciate the good and the bad in a horse's 
movements and the plasticity of an athletic jump, and are 
less apt than boys to evaluate a round over obstacles simply by 
the number of fences touched or knocked down. I am certain 
that girls are largely responsible for the elegance of the riders' 
positions, and for the smoothness of the horses' going that we 
see today in junior and working hunter classes at least in the 
better shows. I doubt whether boys alone would have set 
such high standards. Many boys are inclined to prefer straight 


open jumping, particularly at speed. Boys, since they are 
brought up to group sports, and are virtually required to 
participate in them, find such things as team jumping or polo 
more familiar than individual riding, and they tend to identify 
themselves more with their team mates than with their mounts. 
The fact that oustanding boys have won important horseman- 
ship trophies now and again does not change this general 

I began by giving credit to girls rather than to women just 
because the number of the former is much larger in this sport. 
Many stop riding as they grow up. While the rarely-reached 
ideal of a riding department in a girls' preparatory school is to 
have 50% of the students ride, in a girls* college 20% is hardly 
to be hoped for. And not more than 5% still ride a few years 
after graduation. A job, new interests, city life, marriage, chil- 
dren, etc., bring the percentage down. Some resume riding 
after their children are grown, but their riding is then apt to 
take merely a recreational form. The predominance of women 
in this sport is still obvious, however, and the quality of their 
riding is consistently superior to that of men of the same 
age. There is more to it than the usual explanation that 
women are apt to have more time. 

If I am right that girls have played such an important role 
in raising the standards of riding in this country, then the 
question arises: where were women in the past? Why was it 
only recently, and so dramatically, that they began to appear 
on the equestrian scene? 

It did not happen all at once. Women in the Middle Ages 
hacked, travelled on horseback, and even hunted, and they 
continued to do so throughout the following centuries. But 
women did not take part in the High School riding of early 
dressage, and in the eighteenth century they again rode less. 
At the beginning of the nineteenth century most ladies who 


would have been in a position to ride were supposed rather 
to spend their time in the drawing room, busying themselves 
with embroidery, the spinet, water colors, local gossip, and the 
latest novel. It was soon afterwards that ladies' riding began 
hesitantly moving toward its present position. 

In 1805, John Adams, who claimed to be the first to write 
on "a ladies' system of riding/' said that "the custom for ladies 
to ride becomes daily more and more prevalent . . . and no 
longer restrained by the former prejudices of 'bold, masculine, 
and indelicate for ladies to ride/ " And he adds that now the 
ladies "may enjoy a recreation which exhilarates the spirit, 
invigorates the body, amuses the mind, gratifies the eye, and 
contributes so much to the felicity of the gentlemen who are 
honored with the care and attendance of our fair country- 
women in these salutary exercises." 

But progress in women's riding was slow, and THE LADY'S 
EQUESTRIAN MANUAL, written in about the middle of the 19th 
century, suggests that "No lady of taste ever gallops on the 
road. Into this pace, the lady's horse is never urged, or per- 
mitted to break, except in the field: and not above one among 
a thousand of our fair readers, it may be surmised, is likely to 
be endowed with sufficient ambition, and boldness, to attempt 
the following of hounds/' (Philadelphia reprint of 1854.) 

By the early twentieth century this percentage had sub- 
stantially increased. John Masefield, in his description of a 
hunt in REYNARD THE Fox, mentions fifteen girls and women 
in a field of fifty-five. It may sound little today, but at the same 
time ladies did not yet participate in large numbers in com- 
petitive jumping. In the last horse shows that I remember in 
Russia, just before the First World War, a few ladies rode 
side-saddle, exhibiting conformation horses at gaits only. Jump- 
ing was at least ninety per cent military; I can remember only 
one woman competing over fences. At that time, in America, 


women also rode predominantly side-saddle, but they were 
beginning to change, and in 1921 Miss Lida Fleitmann wrote: 

". . . There are few places where a graceful, well turned-out 
woman looks better, or appeals more to the masculine eye, 
than in a side saddle, and there are few places where the same 
woman looks less graceful, less chic, or less feminine than 
when she is attired in breeches and boots astride of a cross- 
saddle, . . . Why, therefore, shouldn't women be willing to 
submit to the few very slight inconveniences of the side-saddle 
in order to look graceful, feminine, and lady-like, instead of 
like a vulgar, badly shaped and knock-kneed man." (COMMENTS 
ON HACKS AND HUNTERS, Charles Scribner's Sons) 

Just four years later a different attitude was taken in England 
by Lieut-Col. M. F. McTaggart in his book MOUNT AND MAN 
(Country Life, Ltd.): 

"Personally, I hope that the time is not far distant when 
the side saddle will look as absurd as the crinoline, and that 
the only place to find one will be in the museums. ... It seems 
to me that ladies possess naturally the qualities of horseman- 
ship more than men. They pick up anything that is delicate 
and precise so easily. The grasp of rhythm and cadence and 
balance seems to come naturally to them, . . . Then, again, the 
delicacy of touch and the sympathy which is a necessity for 
good 'hands' are both feminine attributes/' 

Now we know that women soon ceased to submit to the 
"slight inconveniences" of the side-saddle because as competi- 
tion developed these put them at a disadvantage when com- 
peting with men mounted astride. Though feminine charm 
today may have assumed a different aspect, it is still undoubt- 
edly with us. 

The rise of women's colleges during the period we have been 
discussing and the growth of physical education departments 


in them have also done much to increase women's participation 
in most sports, riding not least. 

In developing jumping to the status of an art, teachers, 
particularly those who were serious enough to study new ideas 
and bold enough to preach and write about them, have played 
a big role. 

At the beginning of the century there were comparatively 
few riding teachers in the United States who had had an eques- 
trian education. In those days the usual riding instructor was 
a man who had started life as a stable boy, later becoming 
a riding groom or a professional rider for a commercial stable 
of one kind or another, eventually opening a combination of a 
boarding stable and riding academy of his own. If, besides 
ambition, he had common sense and was blessed with an 
engaging personality, he stood a good chance of gradually 
establishing his reputation as a good instructor. Substituting 
experience for knowledge, and adding brains, some of these 
teachers succeeded in obtaining good practical results with their 
pupils. The most talented and ambitious of them studied the 
subject and became knowledgeable horsemen. The less able 
ones, however, never sought to better themselves and continued 
their primitive and often simply bad teaching, while perhaps 
doing a good business on the basis of charm and of public 
ignorance in equestrian matters. Such teachers of course 
retarded, and are still retarding, progress in raising the stand- 
ards of riding, at least in their own communities. 

In the early twenties the ranks of professional riding teachers 
were joined by refugees from the Russian revolution; these 
were former cavalry officers. Only one of this group of about 
forty men was really familiar with the Italian method, while 
the rest of us were the product of Fillis' teaching, with the 
addition of a smattering of the Forward Seat. Around the 


same time a few former cavalry officers of other nations also 
were teaching riding here. 

I arrived in the United States knowing only "yes" and "no" 
in English, and started my American life as an ordinary laborer. 
Then in 1927, when I could speak some English, two other 
Russian cavalry officers, Colonel Prince Kader A. Guirey and 
Captain Sergei N. Kournakoff, and I, with the help of a 
financial partner, opened the Boots and Saddles Riding School 
in New York City. 

I do not think we were very good teachers during the first 
two or three years; it was hard in the beginning both to forget 
the old indoctrination and to adjust ourselves to the needs 
of civilian amateurs. From the very first, however, we 
were blessed with success. Probably the main reason for this 
was the fact that we offered something rather new then in 
America a well-organized presentation of riding on an edu- 
cated basis. I am certain now that our young pupils did not 
know what we were talking about, but their parents and our 
adult students were fascinated by this different approach. 
And then, of course, the fact that we were willing to discard 
fond memories of our army days and to try hard to adapt bur 
teaching to the very different conditions of life here, and to 
think independently about riding, helped to create a lively 
atmosphere in the school. There was nothing stagnant about 
Boots and Saddles. 

In the mid-thirties we were beginning to give lessons to 
young riding teachers, practically all of them educated young 
women, many of whom were college graduates. This was a 
rather new type of riding instructor, who was destined to play 
an important role later on. In 1947 a group of these women 
who taught riding in womens* colleges and girls' preparatory 
schools, at last organized the establishment of riding standards 
for the National Section on Women's Athletics (today The 




g e u w g * 

a 8 '3 S>.5 '~ I 

O g OT3 =3 fi 4 

^ * .2, cu'^ 


Division for Girls and Women's Sports) of the American Asso- 
ciation for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (a 
department of the National Education Association), This 
organization also inaugurated Centres for teaching riding 
instructors and for rating those who passed examinations. 


Today the DGWS holds some four Centres yearly, in different 
parts of the country. Some outstanding professionals have come 
out of this group, and, what is perhaps more important, the 
Centres have enabled many beginners to get started on the 
right track. 

After the Second World War, a new group of European 
refugees appeared on the American equestrian scene; again 
many of them were former cavalry officers. A few of those who 
joined the profession and who are teaching jumping and cross- 
country riding today have a modern approach to these sports, 
while others teach merely an improved version of what previ- 
ous refugees taught years earlier that is, the familiar army 
mixture of old and new. But the new part is by now more 
coherent than it was in my days. Considering that for a number 
of years American amateur riding has been developing along 
its own more efficient lines, some of the newcomers, in the 
opinion of many people, have interfered with the process 
rather than helped it. On the other hand, horsemen who 
believe that some of the old type of manege schooling is 
helpful in making jumpers and field horses have welcomed 
their arrival. 

The picture of educational possibilities in this country 
is further complicated by the fact that many amateurs, of 
various beliefs or none, are teaching. There are also those 
amateurs disguised as professionals, who represent neither the 
horse sense of uneducated but experienced, born-in- the- trade 
horsemen, nor any educated school. Probably many of these 
will learn eventually or will drop out. Finally, there is the 
type of riding instructor who, whether educated or ignorant, 
is not going to struggle for any ideal and who will teach 
whatever is in demand at the moment. 

These various teachers are the products of such different 
backgrounds and methods that teaching in this country is 


necessarily far from standardized. One could probably find 
someone to teach any method of cross-country riding or jump- 
ing that has obtained anywhere at any time in this century. 
This makes for both confusion and controversy. The former 
is harmful, the latter often stimulating and productive. 

There has also been that impersonal teacher the Horse 
Show. Since the monkey element still functions in us effectively, 
many children have learned a great deal from simply hanging 
over the rail at shows long enough and observing attentively 
enough. To be sure, the ones who have learned by this 
method had to possess natural aptitude to begin with; and 
they frequently still cannot tell you why they do something, 
although they may do it correctly the latter because they have, 
naturally, imitated the winners in Horsemanship classes. Today, 
the American riding scene is very complex indeed. 

The parts of this chapter which deal with the progress of 
educated riding may give the impression that all is beautiful 
in the riding world in the United States today. Actually, the 
broad picture is not uniform. While some of the new people 
who entered this sport brought with them what was necessary 
to improve riding, others did not contribute much beyond 
vulgarity and a new type of cruelty which was often the 
result of the latter. For the sake of winning trophies, by 
hook or by crook, they resorted to painful or sometimes simply 
absurd bits and gadgets, and to any manner of riding they 
thought might make the horse clear a course of obstacles. 
In order to collect ribbons, horses today are made to jump so 
much and so high that among consistent winners really sound 
animals are in the minority. Although some of these, with 
the help of iron constitutions and veterinary science, con- 
tinue to appear in the show ring year after year, a disturbingly 
large number of horses are turned into nervous wrecks or are 
buried in their prime. Essentially there is nothing new in this 


picture; only its forms have changed. Good riders and consid- 
erate ones have always been outnumbered by poor or rough 
ones, and in the past horses were as much abused by forcible 
and unintelligent dressage riding as they are today by jumping. 
None of this should be forgotten when rejoicing in the achieve- 
this is the reluctance of the average horseman to study the 
ments of educated riding. 

Of the many negative elements present in American riding 
today one in particular should be discussed at some length 
theoretical side of riding. 

This apathy toward thinking deeply about riding is quite 
a serious fault, for it not only limits the riding potential of 
the individual but has an adverse effect on those policies which 
try to promote better riding on a national scale. 

The majority of our horsemen who are interested in jump- 
ing and who have accepted the Forward Seat and other Italian 
practices connected with control and schooling have not studied 
the theoretical basis for them. Nor have they ever been curious 
to find out what Forward Riding replaced, and why. 

Since the modern method was especially devised for field 
riding and jumping, it worked well even when approached 
superficially and purely practically. It enabled our juniors to 
ride better over fences than their European counterparts; but 
their reluctance to study theory has left them without any 
convictions. On the other hand, the majority of continental 
Europeans, old-fashioned as many of them are, have a tradi- 
tionally scholastic approach to riding. Although their devotion 
to the past may impede their progress in riding over obstacles, 
they usually can give reasons for what they are doing. While 
these reasons may be basically incorrect, they possess, just the 
same, a certain logic. Europeans, being well-educated in 
traditional schools of equestrian thought, know how to argue 
in defence of their doctrines, while Americans on the whole 



With the substitution of the Forward Seat for an old-fashioned one on 
advertisements, and finally even on postage stamps, its popular acceptance 
was evident. 

are unable either to attack European logic. or to defend their 
own. Thus, rather naturally, they have acquired an inferiority 
complex on the subject of theoretical equitation, and are 
easily led astray. 

America has always had a group of people who copied 
Europe. But in the past this set confined itself to a super- 
ficial imitation of the English hunting squire and no theories 
were attached to his kind of riding. Today many Americans 


would like to imitate continental European manege riding 
for the purpose of schooling hunters or jumpers, and some 
of those who have the money, time and energy endeavor to 
promote it beyond their own use. Among the latter there are 
quite a few who do this through no educated conviction that 
the dressage type of schooling is best even for a hunter or a 
jumper but merely because conformity with the trends of 
prestige-holding groups is prevalent among us today. Many 
people talk dressage without truly understanding it, for the 
simple reason that such a policy is imperative in some com- 
munities in order to be in the swing of social activities. 

Continental Europe, as mentioned before, has on the whole 
accepted fewer Italian ideas than we. So the attempts to imitate 
it may be regarded as conservative ones. Thus, instead, of ad- 
vancing equitation, they really retard it. This movement, how- 
ever, could have been of considerable educational value if our 
American horsemen had been in the habit of approaching 
riding on a theoretical basis. For in that case this reactionary 
attitude could at least serve as a basis for interesting theoretical 
disputes, which might widen our horizons. Nothing of the sort 
has taken place, however, and no theoretical reasons lie behind 
the opposition to dressage, but simply the fact that many people 
who have tried it have messed up their horses. The latter 
is hardly a sound reason, since most of them upset their horses 
not because they practiced dressage but because they practiced 
it without sufficient theoretical and practical preparation. 

While many riders have not accepted dressage simply be- 
cause they find it too unfamiliar or too complicated (not 
sufficient reasons for an ambitious horseman), others have 
welcomed it simply in hopes that it might prove to be a 
panacaea for all ills, or because they could not resist an extra 
chance to compete, or simply as a matter of following a new 
fad. These riders usually plunged into dressage without first 


studying its theory, and they seldom practiced this difficult 
form of schooling methodically enough to make sense in it. 
The term elementary dressage is used now to cover every sin 
against this ancient and scholastic type of riding. Much of what 
is practiced today under the name of dressage is counterfeit 
and, as such, is in bad taste. Here again the lack of a habit 
of thinking about riding and studying it theoretically or 
practicing it assiduously is responsible for this unfortunate 
state of affairs. 

This typical American attitude is alone sufficient to preclude 
the wide-spread success of any complicated method. And, true 
enough, the general picture of riding in this country indicates 
that the comparatively simple Forward Riding has contributed 
more towards raising standards in jumping and riding to 
hounds and towards lessening the abuse of horses than any 
other method practiced so far. It should be noted that it is 
more in conformity with the old, sound, and purely American 
ideal of a working hunter than any European system. 


The 20th Century in Print in America 

It is often said among riding teachers that it is easy to teach 
such mechanical things as a good position, but hard to make 
pupils think as horsemen. The interests of a beginner quite 
naturally do not go beyond his immediate needs and, because 
the majority of those who attempt to ride remain beginners 
for the rest of their lives, thinking about riding is not very 
widespread in the equestrian world. If these people ever read 
anything, it is invariably something very simple, which merely 
gives a little practical advice that they can immediately put 
to use. It is quite different in the comparatively limited sphere 
of educated riding, which by the way, has always been small. 
Among horsemen at this level there is curiosity which goes 
beyond the mere expediency of the moment. They are inter- 
ested in books as a means of getting acquainted with the 
opinions of other horsemen, and hence with different theories 
on how and why one method may be better than another. 

It is very pleasant to be able to report that this small group 
of riders has lately grown and consequently it may be said that 
books have played a role in bettering and advancing riding. 
This statement, however, should be qualified only some 
books have been helpful in raising the standards of riding, 
while many have been useless; others have merely created con- 
fusion. Only a few books have been written by horsemen who 


not only possessed the necessary knowledge, but appreciated 
the requirements of the times, who were able to present their 
theories in a manner palatable to the amateur, and who had 
something new to offer. Many books have been slapped 
together for purely commercial reasons, and others written by 
people who had just discovered something new to them but 
actually as old as the hills, and who felt an irresistible urge to 
share it with everyone. 

All the important books on equitation published in the 
United States have appeared during the last thirty years. They 
all deal with the Forward Seat and jumping, and schooling 
hunters and jumpers. Because of the demands of the market 
there have also been unoriginal books which in different words 
treat the same theme some of these, however, in an attractive 
enough manner to sell. There are also books on Dressage 
sold in this country today. I shall discuss these in Chapter XV, 
when describing the present conservative movement against 
Italian principles. Here it should merely be pointed out that 
practically all the latter books have added the Forward Seat 
(often of a peculiar variety) to their repertory. This addition 
represents the influence of our century on the ancient art of 
manage riding. One cannot get away from the fact that jump- 
ing is the game of the century. 

On the other hand, as recently as 1922 Count Baretto de 
Souza could publish his PRINCIPLES OF EQUITATION (E. P. But- 
ton & Co., New York) which, since it was about elementary 
riding, was intended for everyone, but still contained no 
chapter on jumping at all. Perhaps today, when the word 
dressage (often completely misunderstood) is in vogue, a book 
about riding on the flat only, or even on pure High School, 
could again sell, but this could hardly have happened until 

The comparison between de Souza *s book for beginners and 


recent books addressed to the same audience has additional 
interest, not merely because o the difference in the forms of 
riding but also because of the difference in spirit. De Souza's 
book conspicuously belongs to another era; it is still Victorian 
in character, with all the gentility of the period pervading the 
text. This gentility leads to apprehension, and hence the 
dangers of riding are stressed. A few disconnected quotations 
will illustrate this: 

". . . just as no 'gentleman' and still more no 'lady* will, 
or ought to, associate in daily life with people of disreputable 
character, and degraded morals, except in doing missionary 
work, so no such refined person should associate with any 
vicious, disreputable or roguish horse. . . ." 

"Even when there are excellent medical reasons for doing 
so, e.g.: a prompt reduction of flesh, a rider should never feel 
tired-out on dismounting. 

"'But it is a difficult thing, especially for a novice, to stop 
a horse; sometimes even a good rider of the usual sort finds 
difficulty in doing it. In a few cases it requires the intervention 
of a third party usually a mounted policeman [in a city park] 
and in fortunately rare cases it involves broken bones, or 
possibly still more serious consequences/' 

PRINCIPLES OF EQUITATION is a well-constructed and well- 
written book. It was obviously conceived by an experienced 
instructor who knew how much to water down the dressage 
type of riding in order to make it practical for the majority 
of his pupils who rode in covered rings and city parks. It 
contains much common-sense advice mostly, of course, from 
the Victorian point of view. Very characteristic of the period 
are the reasons given for riding. Competitiveness in equestrian 
sport had not yet penetrated the mass of riders and, instead, 
health was regarded as the primary reason for learning to ride: 

"Nearly all diseases are caused, and a number of others are 


aggravated, by unhealthy conditions of the digestive tract 
especially the intestinal portion of it in proof of which the 
first care of a visiting physician is to enquire about his 
patient's digestive functions. This essentially undesirable con- 
dition can be combatted without resort to medicine only by 
equestrian exercise. . . ." 

In the late twenties, when already partly retired, de Souza 
sometimes rented the ring and horses of the Boots and Saddles 
Riding School for his private lessons. From our many con- 
versations one of his phrases, which sums up his general atti- 
tude, has stuck in my mind: "any fool can make a horse go; 
it takes a rider to stop him/* 

In the present discussion of books of the 20th century, I 
shall continue my general policy in this volume of quoting 
or mentioning only those which either played an outstanding 
rdle in the advancement of educated riding or are interesting 
because they throw light on the character of the period. Thus 
in previous chapters I have overlooked scores of excellent 
books and many more insignificant ones. In this chapter you 
may miss some books that you have on your shelves. 

The 19th and the early 20th century books printed in this 
country were primarily unoriginal. Even in the foreword of 
A Manual of Equitation published by the United States 
Cavalry School in pre-Chamberlin days (sometime in the 
twenties) it is frankly stated that: 

"No claim is made to originality. ... It presents no new 
principles, and is thus directly or indirectly indebted to the 
vast field of allied literature that precedes it . . ." 

The Manual of Equitation of the French Army, 1912, heads 
the list of sources for this book. 

Then there were books printed in America during the past 
hundred years (particularly during the 19th century) that were 
conspicuously provincial. Among these were books written by 






An illustration which enlivens a serious book on various types of dis- 
mounted work. These few witty water-colors among the numerous purely 
instructive drawings are characteristic of those touches of Gallic humor 
which make French works so easy to take. See pages 282 and 287. (From 
CROQUIS HIPPIQUES, by Commandant Yves Benoist-Gironidre, published by 
Librairie des Champs-lysees, Paris, 1953.) 


primitive horse-breakers who called themselves ''professors/' 
and who were on a par with fair barkers selling patent medi- 
cine. One of these, in 1878, wrote a book entitled PROF. 
WILLIAMS' NEW SYSTEM. It says, in a chapter called The 
First-Step to be Taken with a Wild Colt: 

"Get your colt into some enclosure small barnyard or 
barn floor. . . . Prepare yourself with a good spring-top whip, 
step into the enclosure . . . stand quietly for a few moments 
and then give your whip a sharp crack . . . now gently ap- 
proach him ... if he attempts to turn to run from you, give 
him a sharp crack with your whip around the hind legs and 
under the flank. . . . After applying your whip in this way 
until he will stand quiet with his head towards you . . . 
gently approach him saying Ho! boy; but in approaching him, 
if he should turn and run from you, apply the whip smartly 
to his hind legs. ... In a very few moments he does not turn 
his quarters towards you, but will stand and face you, and 
allow you to place your hand upon his neck, pat and caress 
him. In so doing, you gain his confidence, and awaken two . 
qualities of his nature, fear and love; he loves to be with you 
and he fears to leave you. . . . The next step is to teach him 
that his strength, compared with yours, amounts to nothing. . , . 
This is best accomplished by the use of our surcingle . . . 
gently raise the left forward foot, and place it in the surcingle 
by the use of the strap attached to the surcingle. . . . Your 
horse is now upon three legs. ... He finds that he is fast 
and in trouble, and as you have taught him to come to you 
for protection, he instantly comes to you for help ... be 
ever ready and willing to assist him. By so doing, you awaken 
his love and gratitude. As you approach, gently pat and caress 
him, and relieve his foot. After caressing him for a short time, 
step to the other side and place the right foot in the 
surcingle. . . ." 


And finally, almost all American books published prior to 
the thirties were very superficial and in this respect close to 
the English tradition. They are full of such slip-shod state- 
ments as the following: 

"The seat about to be described was that of the earliest 
riders, represented by Phidias, described by Xenophon [still 
without a saddle] employed by the Bedouins and other Eastern 
horsemen ..." 

"When the animal alights, [in jumping] it must find some 
support from the bit, so that in case of a peck or of a stumble 
the forehand can rise until a bearer comes under the center 
of gravity and saves a fall. The bending back of the rider's 
body as the forehand reaches the ground is, of course, 
of great assistance in recovering from a misstep/' (RIDING AND 
DRIVING, by Edward L. Anderson, 1905.) 

Probably the two most serious books of the period written 
on American soil were de Souza's ADVANCED EQUITATION and a 
book by de Bussigny, a Frenchman who taught in Boston; 
both were about Dressage, of course. It was only in the thirties 
that some very interesting books on modern riding were 
published here. They were not, however, the first on the 

Probably the first book to describe the Italian method was 
written by a Russian cavalry officer, Colonel Paul Rodzianko, 
who studied in Pinerolo in 1906. This book was published 
before the First World War, but was never translated into 
other languages, and hence is unknown outside Russia. The 
same thing happened to a little pamphlet of the same period 
by another Russian cavalryman. And you will remember the 
articles by Krassnoff, from which I quoted previously. All 
this material was unfortunately not complete enough for 
serious study. Perhaps various articles and booklets on the 
subject were written in other less familiar languages, but in 


the English-speaking world the credit for being the first to 
write about the Forward Seat is usually given to an English 
cavalry officer, Lieut. Col. M. F. McTaggart. In his book, 
MOUNT & MAN, published in 1925, by Country Life Ltd., 
Colonel McTaggart included a chapter entitled The Forward 
Seat, and thus became the pioneer in a popular Anglo-Saxon 
misrepresentation of Caprilli's teaching. All the English writers 
of the time took the Forward Seat out of the context of the 
method, often partially corrupting it, combining it with a few 
old military dressage principles, and adding a dash of tradi- 
tional foxhunting practices. 

As a matter of fact, the thinking of most horsemen of 
other nations at the time was equally confused on the subject. 
Few of them understood that the Italian method consisted 
of three parts, logically combined: schooling, control^ and seat. 
All these authors missed the point that these three parts were 
organically related to each other, and that together they 
constituted a homogeneous and completely original method. 
It was evidently hard for many to see that Caprilli's innova- 
tions went beyond giving the rider a novel position. It obvi- 
ously was equally hard for them to forget what they had 
learned in their youth about schooling and control. This 
mixture of the old and the new was very prevalent until the 
early thirties. From then on Italian ideas begin gradually 
to predominate in the more important books on jumping and 
cross-country riding. Lately, however, we are witnessing a re- 
vival of the old mixture; I shall discuss this movement in 
later chapters. 

McTaggart was probably also the first to call the Forward 
Seat the Balanced Seat in print and, while naming it correctly, 
to open the way for every kind of misinterpretation of a good 
forward position. Any good seat is obviously a balanced one, 
A cowboy seat may be as well balanced in its own way as the 


dressage seat or the forward one is in its way. There are 
several ways of balancing oneself when mounted in order to 
achieve unity with a horse in motion. For example, in the 
dressage seat the rider's balance is based in the saddle (the 
best balance for uniting the rider with a horse moving at 
collected gaits), while in the case of the Forward Seat the 
rider is balanced primarily in the stirrups (the best for fast 
galloping and jumping or merely riding a freely going horse). 
So the adjective balanced does not describe a particular seat, 
while forward does. The ambiguity of the term balanced seat 
left every rider free to interpret it in his own way, and thus 
to combine it with any other type of riding. 

I am bold enough to be so critical of others for corrupting 
the Italian method and for mixing the Italian seat with the 
practices of manege riding, since I must confess that at one 
time I was guilty of the same crime. It is rather ironic to 
realize that the mixture of elementary dressage (diluted Fillis 
in my case) and the Forward Seat that I taught some twenty- 
five years ago enjoys a minor revival in the United States today, 
under the guise of the latest word in European equitation. 

Two horsemen-writers, Major Piero Santini of the Italian 
cavalry, and General H. D. Chamberlin of the United States 
cavalry, played particularly important roles in, so to say, 
modernizing many of us horsemen in America. 

Major Piero Santini (1881-1960), wrote three books in 
English. His first, RIDING REFLECTIONS, originally published in 
New York in 1932 by the Derrydale Press, was the book that 
particularly clarified many points in my mind. As the first 
authentic presentation by an Italian of the principles of the 
Italian method and of its seat, the book was read by thousands 
of horsemen, and undoubtedly had a wide-spread influence, 
at least as far as the seat goes. 

This masterly written book combines a lurid presentation 


of the subject with a caustic wit and with poetic descriptions 
of foxhunting and country riding. The search for perfection 
which fills its pages is evidence that the author made no 
concessions to the popular market. This perhaps accounts for 
its being as fresh today as when it was first printed. 

Unfortunately, the scope of RIDING REFLECTIONS is not large; 
it discusses primarily the Forward Seat the reasons for it, 
its "geometry," and its application mostly in the hunting 
field. But this was precisely what I needed in those days. 
Perhaps the fact that on several occasions I had an opportunity 
to discuss riding with Major Santini, both at about the time 
the book was published, and again much later, makes this 
work particularly vivid to me. 

A second book, THE FORWARD IMPULSE, (Huntington Press, 
1936) is largely a recapitulation of RIDING REFLECTIONS, with 
some important additions. It is distinctly worthwhile to study 
both, rather than merely one. 

Major Santini did some teaching on this continent and in 
England. He taught as he wrote in perfect English, author- 
itatively, often sarcastically, always trying to achieve perfec- 
tion, and with the accent on the rider's position. His teaching 
made a strong impression. 

Major Santini, following Caprilli's fundamental principles, 
presents the Forward Seat as something essential first of all 
for the horse. (The following quotations are from RIDING 

"The verb 'to sit' should be eliminated from our vocabulary 
where riding is concerned ... he (the rider) should be well 
forward in the saddle, with loins bent inwards, and fork close 
to the pommel, thereby reducing to the least possible fraction 
contact between buttocks and saddle. If this position is adopted 
we are immediately struck by the impression that a horse can 
comfortably carry much more than his usual burden, and for 


obvious reasons: he has the bulk of the rider's weight where 
he feels it the least, i.e. on the forehand, his propelling appara- 
tus loins and quarters free of encumbrance. ..." 

This is a true horseman's approach to riding and very 
different from that of "mounted pedestrians" whose thinking 
begins and ends with consideration of the rider alone. The 
latter attitude is particularly irritating to me when encountered 
among outstanding riders. 

But the rider was also taken into consideration by Santini 
who, always very much of a stylist in everything he did, wrote 
and taught that "nothing gives a greater impression of lack of 
style and chic in a horseman than using the saddle as he 
would the family armchair." It is hard to argue with Major 
Santini about the armchair, but I know from experience that 
in many cases an excellent, chic Forward Seat can be obtained 
only at the expense of stiffening the rider, and consequently 
diminishing the efficiency of his control. Some people are 
built to sit stylishly, while to others this presents real difficulty; 
an instructor should have a practiced eye to recognize how far 
he can go in every individual case in striving toward the ideal. 
I always aim primarily at a "workmanlike" Forward Seat, 
which will benefit both the horse and the rider and then, in 
cases where it comes easily, it is very pleasant to have a pupil 
look chic as well. A good position is not merely an elegant one, 
but one that enables the rider to control his horse efficiently. 

Santini knew how to underline the attractions, of country 

"The centuries-old association between man and horse had 
its origin in the chase; the more we keep this basic idea in 
mind the purer our diversions will be; the farther we wander 
from it the more artificial will they grow. In this mechanical 
age we should cling more than ever for the good of our 
bodies and souls to the few simple things that are left us, 


and not allow arc lights, grand-stands and applause to encroach 
on or get confused in our minds with the sky, green and brown 
fields, hedge and ditch and timber and the often unshared 
and purely personal and intimate satisfaction of finding one's 
way over a difficult country far from white ties and hand 
clappings. There is contradiction in the very terms 'sportsman 
and showman.' " 

Unfortunately opportunities to pursue the type of riding so 
engagingly presented by Santini are becoming rarer and rarer 
as suburbia extends its networks and encroaches almost every- 
where on "good hunting country/* 

As you may gather, Santini did not like horse shows; here 
are some things he has to say on the subject. 

"If the public knew what sometimes goes on behind the 
scenes, and what crocks and 'bad actors' in private do bril- 
liantly in public, their unreasoning admiration for the sleek 
animals that go back to their boxes adorned with all the colors 
of the rainbow would receive a rude shock. . . . 

"In jumping events, which particularly lend themselves to 
dramatization, the acrobatics which thrill the ignorant are 
totally unnecessary, and are the result of the histrionic spirit 
we all possess to a greater or lesser degree, and which is en- 
couraged by the presence of spectators. . . . 

"The only real use of horse shows lies in the improvement 
of horsemanship by observation and fastidious criticism, and 
this is the attitude of mind which should be encouraged in 
the public, or at least such portion of it as are themselves 
actively interested in riding as a sport. This class of spectator 
should frequent the show ring in much the same spirit as that 
in which a painter looks at a picture gallery or a musician 
listens to other musicians for the improvement of his own 
art by absorption, study and criticism of fellow-craftsman's 


There is no question that open jumping classes do not neces- 
sarily contribute to better horsemanship. However, the forms 
which our horsemanship and hunter classes have taken since 
RIDING REFLECTIONS was written have definitely played the 
leading role in raising the standards of riding and in spreading 
better riding all over the country. At the time Major Santini 
was working on his book it was hard to foresee to what extent 
horse shows would grow. Writing this chapter in the spring 
of 1961, I note that in the month of May over one hundred 
and thirty shows will be held in the British Isles and over one 
hundred and forty in the United States. But it is not only that 
the number of shows has grown to a fantastic figure; the 
quality of performance in them has improved immensely since 
the middle thirties. Major Santini's advice to observe the tech- 
niques of the contestants is very much followed today, and 
very carefully, I may add, by the participants themselves. For 
many juniors the horse show is their most -effective teacher. 

Unfortunately, neither RIDING REFLECTIONS nor Santini's 
second book THE FORWARD IMPULSE, take up schooling. ^In 
this respect Col. Harry D. Chamberlin's books, RIDING AND 
SCHOOLING HORSES (Derrydale Press, 1933) and TRAINING 
HUNTERS, JUMPERS AND HACKS (Derrydale Press, 1937) substan- 
tially widened my horizons on an important subject. 

Col. H. D. Chamberlin (who died a General, in 1944) is 
well remembered for his winning and stylistically brilliant per- 
formances and for those of the United States Army Team that 
was trained by him. These exerted an enormous influence in 
spreading a modern educated method of riding over obstacles. 

Col. Chamberlin's second book is the one that particularly 
dispelled all my uncertainties about the course I should take 
in schooling. It taught rne much that was new to me. It also 
supported me in many things that I was already teaching but 


for which I often encountered such strong criticism that on 
occasion doubts would assail me. 

Col. Chamberlin studied both at Saumur and at Tor di 
Quinto; he was at the latter school in 1923. In the prefaces 
to his books he modestly says that "for the Seat advocated, the 
writer is principally indebted to the Italian Cavalry School," 
while the "credit for the system of training enunciated herein 
is due to the French Cavalry School/* He modified both seat 
and schooling, however, and his second book in particular 
represents neither the French nor the Italian school in its 
purity, but is his sound, original contribution to the cause of 
educated riding. 

Those ideas of Chamberlin which resulted from his studies 
in Italy were the ones which were the most influential in help- 
ing me to form my own techniques, since some of the Italian 
reasoning was still new to me, while I was already familiar 
with the French school of manege riding. The following quo- 
tations, which represent fundamental points of the new type 
of riding, are taken from different parts of the book: 

"At the walk . . . the strides, when studied from the side, 
should be long, free and close to the ground . . . the hind leg 
moves freely with little perceptible flexion at the hock. . . . 

"The trot, though springy, should be low, with feet moving 
close to the ground as a result of minimum flexion of knees 
and hocks. 

"A good galloper's feet travel close to the ground with little 
knee and hock action. . . ." 

These key phrases clearly indicate that collected gaits were 
not a part of the Chamberlin method. 

"Jumping and cross-country work over varied terrain both 
on a loose rein and with the normal contact, improve balance 
and agility ..." 

Loose-rein work, particularly at the beginning of schooling, 





has since become a very important and successful part of my 

"Balance can be immeasurably improved by special gym- 
nastic exercises. However, the artificial form of collection ac- 

Photographs of Col. H. D. Chamberlin illustrating the Forward Seat. 
Left top. At a trot "Since the seat is out of the saddle much of the time 

[when posting], the rider is necessarily riding during those periods in 

the stirrups/ " 
Left bottom. At a slow canter "Even when fully seated at the gallop, no 

effort is made to keep the seat glued tight against the saddle ... a large 

part [of the rider's weight] slips through the relaxed knee and ankle 

joints into the heels." 
Above. At a fast canter or gallop "The rider is actually standing in the 


Compare the above basic points of the Forward Seat quoted from 
Chamberlin's book with those of the German interpretation of it described 
in Chapter XV. (From RIDING ANP SCHOOLING HORSES, by Harry B. Cham- 
berlin, The Derrydale Press, New York, 1934.) 


quired through high-schooling is not suitable to improving 
the balance of these horses [hunters and jumpers]. In high- 
school collection the hocks are flexed, the croup lowered, the 
neck raised and the face brought in to an almost vertical plane 
. . . such horses ... are unable to handle themselves cleverly 
when given their heads and left to their own devices and so 
are practically worthless for cross-country work. . . ." 

Absurd as it may seem today, this paragraph made me ponder 
a long time. I knew that the advanced forms of High School 
collection should not be used in field riding, but I had been 
brought up on the idea that a lower degree of collection should 
be a part of the training of every horse, no matter what his 
job. It was rather difficult to abandon this notion, which had 
been drilled into me, and to replace it with the conception 
of what Chamberlin calls "natural collection," that is the 
ability of the horse to gather himself for a few seconds here 
and there when a sudden change in terrain, an abrupt slowing 
down of the gait, or an abrupt halt calls for it. There is a tre- 
mendous difference between the horse gathering himself under 
these circumstances or moving forward at collected gaits. By 
the term "natural collection," which Chamberlin unfortunately 
never precisely defined, he also obviously meant that at gaits 
the horse should be united; today, I often use the term a 
"connected horse/' 

But to resume quoting Chamberlin: 

"Keeping the horse's head turned inward while working on 
the circle is occasionally beneficial as a gymnastic and disci- 
plinary exercise but should not be insisted on normally. . . . 
It is unnatural, impedes the inside shoulder, shortens the stride 
and instigates resistance. . . . 

"The pernicious custom, frequently seen in high-schooling 
and elsewhere, of striving to hold the horse's body on an 
absolutely straight line while at the gallop, and the even more 


ruinous one of habitually bending the spine and neck out- 
wards to conform to the curve being travelled, shorten the 
stride, cramp and annoy the horse. These faulty methods are 
to be carefully shunned in the practical training of outdoor 
horses . . ." 

I must confess that it was hard for me to relinquish the 
belief once taught me that the horse should be bent to corre- 
spond to the curve of the line along which he moves. I had 
preserved this tenet of dressage longer than any other. Evi- 
dently it is equally hard for many other horsemen to abandon 
this idea, and even today some of them, by requiring small 
circles, induce that bending of the horse which according to 
Chamberlin is a "ruinous" procedure. 

"Cantering false i.e. leading with the left leg when curving 
or circling to the right, or vice versa lengthens and lowers 
the stride; supples the spine; lowers the head and neck; puts 
the horse on the bit; and improves balance and agility/' 

This exercise eventually became one of the very fundamen- 
tal ones of my method. I teach it to a green horse when he still 
does not know the leads and is too awkward to make changes 
by himself. Consequently, in the early stages of schooling in 
a ring, I never insist on the inside lead; this results in a certain 
amount of accidental cantering on the wrong lead and thus 
the false canter develops by itself, and brings with it all the 
benefits enumerated by Chamberlin. 

If you compare these fundamental principles of Chamberlin 
with those of Caprilli you will find that they have a great deal 
in common. Much of what Caprilli taught and Krassnoff de- 
scribed, Chamberlin wrote. The same belief in free gaits, in 
absence of real collection, in not bending the horse in the 
sides and neck when making a turn, in disregarding the lead 
(that is, cantering false) and in riding either on loose reins or 
on soft contact, is there. If I were not afraid of being tiresome 


I could make a still longer list of Italian elements in Cham- 
berlin's teaching. On second thought, I would like to include 
here one more of his paragraphs, about flexions of the mouth 
and the poll. You will remember that these flexions always 
were predominantly important in dressage schooling and were 
taught dismounted, in hand. On this subject Chamberlin 

"Suppling of the jaw while dismounted, still practiced by 
some high-school experts, is entirely unnecessary for the aver- 
age riding horse. These flexions were perhaps essential when 
few horsemen owned thoroughbred horses, or those close to 
the blood. For the most part, saddle horses of those days were 
coarse, thick-necked, and poorly bred. Moreover, they were 
continuously held to slow gaits suitable to the airs of the high- 
school, for there were no equestrian sports requiring great 
speed. The slow, collected gaits, and training of former times 
are unsuitable for modern riding." 

Not surprisingly, nearly all Chamberlin's ideas on jumping 
proper are of Italian origin. Thus his fundamental principle 
is non-interference with the horse's own calculation of the 

"The main and most difficult task of the trainer when 
riding over an obstacle is to 'let the horse alone/ Simple 
though this sounds, in practice it requires cool nerve and great 
coordination. . . . 

". . . The idea that one can 'place' his horse for each jump 
over a course of big and imposing obstacles is erroneous. Many 
really brilliant riders have tried it, but -without complete suc- 
cess. The horse must do the jumping, and the less he is both- 
ered, except to encourage and rate him, the better he will 
do. . . ." 

Unquestionably Chamberlin's method (which I have used 


as a guide for the last twenty-five years) brings the best results 
with the great majority of riders and horses when courses are 
not higher than 4'6" and obstacles are not crowded. With 
better horses and riders the fences may even be raised some- 
what. In recent international competitions, however, the fences 
have become so high and the courses so complicated that it is 
doubtful if a horse can function almost on his own. These 
courses and some of the more complicated ones at the national 
level are possible because there exist some riders in both fields 
with such an outstanding sense of timing that they are usually 
able to place their horses accurately. When the same thing is 
attempted by riders and horses with less natural talent and 
less developed techniques, then what Col. Chamberlin said 
is quite true. After all, it is foolish for any but a talented and 
experienced rider who plans to enter advanced competitions 
to try to practice this type of control. 

The last paragraph of the book is also written in Caprilli's 

"If one has a good cross-country horse, the author deems it 
inadvisable to teach extreme collection or the delicately bal- 
anced airs of the high-school. Riding the horse on the bit with 
a normal head carriage, improving his natural balance through 
the simple exercises detailed heretofore, and thereafter allow- 
ing him, as a rule^ to go in the manner most comfortable to 
himself., is the safest and surest road to success and pleasure for 
the practical horseman." (The italics are mine.) 

To this I would like to add that if an experienced trainer 
should beware of high-school movements when schooling a 
hunter and a jumper, a typical amateur rider should avoid 
even the simple forms of dressage. Even these, in the hands of 
such a rider, are apt to make the horse nervous, spoil his per- 
haps naturally good free gaits, and warp his riatural jumping 


abilities. In my clinics I meet such cases all the time; the num- 
ber of horses who have lately been ruined by complicated 
schooling is prodigious. 

As to the French influences on Chamberlin I find so few 
traces of them in his book that I wonder why he so emphati- 
cally gave credit to Saumur and to the French horsemen of the 
18th and the 19th centuries; he specifically mentions such men 
as de la Gueriniere, Baucher, d'Aure, etc. Here is what remains 
from the old manege riding in TRAINING HUNTERS, JUMPERS 

1) Placing the head (Ramener), you may remember, is one 
of the basic points of dressage, and I quoted Gerhard and Fillis 
on the subject. Chamberlin considerably curtails its use by 
finding it advantageous only at very slow gaits, in the abrupt 
decreasing of gaits, and at abrupt halts. He says: 

"When the horse is at fast speeds, the bend at the poll de- 
creases and the face becomes more nearly horizontal as the 
neck and head are extended and lowered. . . . On the other 
hand, when slow speeds cause a short base of support, the 
horse raises and retracts his balancer. In this latter position 
the face normally approaches an angle of forty-five degrees 
with the vertical and becomes almost perpendicular when the 
pace is quickly decreased or a sudden halt required." 

Chamberlin hopes that the horse will acquire this ability to 
change the attitude of the neck and head, depending on the 
speed of the gait, by himself, naturally, and not through the 
coercion of the rider's hands and legs: 

". . . when a graceful placing of the head does not result 
from the intelligent selection and use of various training exer- 
cises, great caution ought to be exercised before attempting to 
force the horse to flex his poll greatly or change his natural 
head carriage. If the ramener obviously causes discomfort and 
nervousness it should be abandoned . . ." 


Again this is very different from French 19th century dress- 
age, in which ramener was taught rather forcibly in hand 
during the first schooling lessons; and it may be remarked that 
ramener still is one of the early lessons in the High School of 

2) Shoulder-in and Appuyer or shoulder-in while moving 
obliquely are, of course, typical dressage movements. To the 
same group belongs the half turn (half circle) during which 
the horse is required to move obliquely even while making the 
turn. The two tracks also belongs to the category of manege 
exercises not to be found in the Italian schooling of a cross- 
country horse. In the past I taught all of these except the 
shoulder-in, but little by little I discarded them, as practical 
evidence proved that they contributed little or nothing to the 
improvement of the performance of a hunter or jumper, par- 
ticularly when practiced by amateur riders, even good ones. 
Two tracks, however, may be a useful exercise for developing 
an advanced rider, because it emphasizes coordination of the 
aids, and I still teach it for this purpose. 

I have devoted so much space to TRAINING HUNTERS, JUMP- 
ERS AND HACKS because I believe that it is, in its field, the 
greatest book of the century, not only in the United States but 
in the world. I know of nothing comparable produced abroad. 
The book was well received, because Col. Chamberlin's suc- 
cess in showing gave him fame; but I doubt whether it had 
the influence it deserved. I have known many people who 
bought the book, but only rarely do I come across someone 
sufficiently familiar with its contents to be able to discuss it. 
The reason lies in the simple fact that the book was not written 
for amateurs, and most of them find it hard going. 

A popular interpretation of modern educated riding was 
obviously needed, and I was one of those who attempted to 
provide it. I succeeded best, I think, with my last two books, 


COMMON SENSE HORSEMANSHIP (D. Van Nostrand Co., 1 95 1) 
and SCHOOLING YOUR HORSE (D. Van Nostrand Co., 1956). 
Based on Caprilli's ideas, they represent an adaptation of the 
original Italian method to the necessities of the contemporary 
American amateur; even the Italians themselves have altered 
some of the details of Caprilli's teaching of sixty years ago. As 
a matter of fact, the whole history of equitation is nothing else 
but a continuous chain of inventions and adaptations inspired 
by the current exigencies of life. It seems to me that it may 
be said that, while I changed some minor techniques of Ca- 
prilli's method to advance it with the times, I preserved its 
spirit intact. 

In 1934 The Boots and Saddles Riding School privately pub- 
lished THE DEFENCE OF THE FORWARD SEAT, written by my 
former associate, the late Captain Sergei Kournakoff and my- 
self. Because only sixty-two subscription copies and twohun- 
dred-and-fifty ordinary copies were printed, the book is little 
known, hence I would like to say a few words about it now. 

It all started by Captain KournakofFs and my wishing to 
prove to ourselves scientifically that the Forward Seat was reaUy 
helpful to the horse in jumping. To achieve this we felt we 
should analyze the horse's jumping efforts in at least three 
different ways, and then compare the results obtained. One 
way was obvious and, although unoriginal, of great importance 
that was photography. Kournakoff, who had a good mathe- 
matical education, took upon himself the analysis of the case 
from the standpoint of the laws of ballistics and then we 
thought of a third way, never before used for this purpose. This 
consisted of attaching a small but very bright electric bulb to 
one or another part of the horse's body, with a dry battery feed- 
ing it secured to the saddle. A camera was placed exactly on 
the line of the jump, which was installed in an artificially 
lighted ring. Shortly before the horse started for the jump, the 


shutter of the camera was opened and was left open until 
the jump was completed. The result was that the fast-moving 
body of the horse would hardly leave a blur (due to poor 
lighting conditions), while the light of the bulb would trace 
a clear-cut line on the plate. Thus the trajectory of the jump 
ceased to be imaginary and its variations, depending on the 
seat used, were convincing factors in our research. 

We began our experiments with the camera and the electric 
bulb in 1932, using upwards of thirty horses as models. The 
results of our work were first published in a series of articles 
in The Rider and Driver beginning in January 1933; a year 
later they were printed in book form. Reviewing it The Sports- 
man wrote: 

"It is probably the most scientific work on equitation ever 
written . . . they [the authors] have taken riding out of the arts 
. . . and placed horsemanship among the sciences, where it 
belongs ... to the mind that seeks to grasp the why and the 
wherefore it is a banquet. . . ." 

The hundred and forty-two pages of this book are concerned 
only with the jump itself; that is, a fleeting moment of about 
two seconds' duration. Today, with thirty more years of prac- 
tical work behind me, I could easily double the volume's size 
without padding it. But incomplete as the book may seem at 
present, at the time it was written it was an original contribu- 
tion to educated riding, and for the writing of it Kournakoff 
deserved more credit than I did. 

Out of the considerable number of popular books published 
in the course of the last twenty-five years, one definitely de- 
serves to be mentioned here and not because the author is 
a good friend and former pupil of mine, but for its own merits. 
It is SCHOOL FOR YOUNG RIDERS, written by Jane Marshall 
Dillon (D. Van Nostrand Co., 1958). Addressed to junior 
riders, it presents modern riding in a technically sound, prac- 


tical, simple and very appealing way. The book unquestionably 
has a healthy, wide-spread influence today. Such books, com- 
bining simplicity of language and informality of presentation 
with a sound scholastic basis, have begun to appear only during 
the current century, and successfully only in this country. Al- 
though the English have often attempted such things and have 
frequently produced entertaining reading, their basic approach 
has usually been too superficial. German books, on the other 
hand, suffer from their thorough-going exhaustiveness and 
heavy presentation, and the few French books written in this 
vein are too sophisticated for beginners. 


International Competitions in the 20th Century 

The most conspicuous development in riding in Europe dur- 
ing the past "forty years has been the spectacular growth of the 
competitive spirit. Even the English amateur, in the past so 
happily relaxed, has recently become highly competitive. And 
the modern Olympic Games, founded in 1894 (the first Games 
were held in 1896} on the principle that "the main thing is 
not winning, but taking part, for the essential thing in life is 
not so much conquering as fighting well," has today become 
an arena for the strongest nationalistic rivalries. 

With this new spirit as the motivating power, the youth of 
all European countries has enthusiastically welcomed a novel 
theme in equitation jumping. At the advanced levels of show 
riding, jumping in Europe has taken a form similar to that 
known in America as "open jumping" (though with different 
rules); and because of the geographical proximity of nations, 
international open jumping has developed fast. This competi- 
tion between the best horses and the best riders of various 
nations has been the cause of a rapid increase in the difficulty 
of the courses. It is particularly since the Second World War 
that severe international courses have begun to pose new prob- 
lems in the selection, schooling, and riding of jumpers. 

These new problems have induced some horsemen to re- 
evaluate Caprilli's method. There is a certain irony in this, 


since it was Caprilli's system that enabled horses and riders to 
jump consistently well over higher and more complicated 
courses than those prevalent in his days, and to continue to do 
so for almost a generation afterwards. But there then occurred 
in riding what has often happened before in other human ac- 
tivities man's ambition to attain the barely attainable took 
over jumping; it forced many international horsemen to 
drop Caprilli's method and to search for other, more forcible 
means of making horses negotiate almost impossible combina- 
tions of obstacles. Today many of these horsemen will rightly 
tell you that Caprilli's basic tenet, that "there is little in 
common between ring riding and cross-country riding" could 
be altered to "there is little in common between cross-country 
riding and international show jumping." Show jumping has 
become a narrow specialty. Consequently, one of the medalists 
of the jumping competition in the London Games of 1948, a 
Frenchman, the Chevalier d'Orgeix, could write, "I am not a 
specialist in cross-country riding . . ." and add that he neither 
practiced nor studied the latter. 

Artificial jumping problems, and the correspondingly! arti- 
ficial means of solving them, have placed such jumping just 
around the corner from the tanbark of the circus. Just as in 
former days our ancestors admired the particularly artificial 
feats of High School, so today many of us enjoy a new type 
of circus unnaturally high obstacles assembled in tricky com- 
binations. And the more spills there are and the more crashing 
of timber, the more thrills some people get. 

Here are some data to illustrate how difficult the interna- 
tional courses of today are in comparison with those at the 
beginning of the century. 

In the Olympic Games of 1912 in Stockholm (the first Games 
to include equestrian events), the maximum height of the 
obstacles was 1.40 metres that is, about 4' 6" (one metre 


equalling about 3' 3"). Several obstacles were only 1.10 metres 
(about 3' 7") and 1.15 metres. In the Olympic Games of 1960 
in Rome, the highest obstacles were 1.60 metres (about 5' 3"), 
while the majority measured between 1.40 and 1.50 metres 
(about 4' 6" and 4' 10"); and there was only one obstacle of 
L80 metres in the individual competition, and one of 1.35 
metres (about 4' 3") in the team competition. In other words, 
the lowest obstacle in Rome was only about three inches lower 
than the highest in Stockholm. But the main difference in the 
difficulties between the old and the new type of course lies in 
the spacing of the combinations, particularly in the treble ones, 
and in the breadth of some of the obstacles which form the 

The actual result of all this in the Prix des Nations of the 
Olympic Games of 1960 was as follows: out of eighteen teams 
that started, nine were eliminated, in the first round, and an- 
other three in the second round. The winning team (German) 
had a total of 46i/ faults; the winners of the silver medal 
(U.S.A.) had 66 faults; and the team in the third place (Italian) 
had 801^ faults. The three remaining teams had respectively 
1351^, 164% and 168 faults. These figures mean that a good 
many fences were knocked down that day. 

Something similar happened on another day, during the in- 
dividual jumping competition over fourteen obstacles which 
constituted a total of seventeen jumps. The course consisted 
of big fences, many with very wide spreads, and a trappy treble 
combination made up of a wall about 4' 9" high, followed 
twenty-four feet later by a triple bar over brush fences, about 
4' II" high with 6' spread, followed twenty-nine feet later by 
parallel bars about 4' 11" with 6' spread. In the first round, 
thirty-five horses failed at this combination, another six refused, 
two fell, and two were eliminated," only eleven jumped clean. 
In the second round, sixteen horses cleared this combination. 


All in all, in this extremely arduous competition, out of the 
sixty horses that started, fourteen were eliminated in the first 
round, while only one horse made a clean performance. In 
the afternoon round another ten horses elected not to start, 
two more were eliminated, and the two best horses had two 
knock-downs each. Only thirty-four horses (a little better than 
half of the number that started) finished the two rounds. The 
winners of the medals had respectively 12, 16 and 23 faults. 
These scores, under the circumstances, were very low; the 
majority of scores lay between 28 and 65 faults. During this 
day, more than three hundred obstacles were knocked down. 

Such unfortunate spectacles as the two jumping competi- 
tions of the 1960 Olympic Games make a feeling horseman 
pity the animals, and they spoil his enjoyment of the sport. 
Another reaction of many of us is that much of the perform- 
ance is simply ugly often as ugly as that of many of our do- 
mestic open jumpers. Thus the question arises whether some 
cases can be classified as an exhibition of educated riding and 
schooling. All this does not, of course, prevent us from acknowl- 
edging the skill involved in getting a horse over this kind of 
course, as well as the great natural abilities of many of the 
horses. But there is a difference between simply recognizing 
skill and talent or thoroughly enjoying a beautiful performance. 

Obviously the sport is up a blind alley. We cannot return 
to the easier courses of former days, and international jumping 
is bound to continue on its steep and narrow path, separating 
itself more and more from amateur riding, and becoming a 
game in which only a professional can participate. As a matter 
of fact, all international riders are virtual professionals already. 
Not professionals in the usual meaning of the term men who 
earn their living by riding; but professionals in a special 
sense that is, horsemen who, having independent means, are 


able to devote more time to riding than to earning a living 
by other work. 

But there is another factor which separates the chosen few 
from other horsemen even more than merely ways of making 
money. This is an exceptional and very special inborn talent 
which is essential to these riders (and, it may be added, to 
the horses which compete in modern international shows) if 
they are to win. No riding teacher or trainer has ever made 
international winners out of merely able men and horses. All 
the great international riders and international horses were 
made in heaven; the teachers and trainers they may have had 
helped merely to develop their gifts. Only a handful of men 
and horses can play this extremely difficult game, which today 
for 99% of horsemen must be a spectator sport. 

The story of advanced Dressage in Europe during the 20th 
century is one both of decline and progress: a decline in the 
number of participants and in general public interest, and of 
progress in quality. The latter is particularly evident at the 
level of High School, which, by the way, has been stripped of 
all its highly artificial movements such as cantering to the rear, 
cantering on three legs, airs above the ground, etc. Today in 
the Olympic Games it culminates with the Passage and the 
Piaffer. But although the program is simpler, there is reason 
to believe that those movements that remain are executed with 
greater refinement than in the past. 

Today, pure Dressage that is, an art per $e aiming at 
High School, and practiced without any utilitarian purpose, 
has very few enthusiasts indeed. A game based on endless tin- 
kering with details, primarily at slow gaits, does not fit the 
tempo of modern life too well, while jumping has stolen many 
potentially good High School riders. And the circus, which 
fostered Dressage early in the century, has already been aban- 


doned as outmoded by the fashionable part of its audience, 
among which are the particular connoisseurs of High School. 
With various circus acts presented here and there on the cin- 
ema or TV, the arena no longer draws the great popular crowds 
and makes the kind of money to pay first-rate artists on horse- 
back. Most of its equestrian acts have degenerated, and the 
term "circus performance" has turned into a derogatory one 
in equitation. 

Today it is only a well-staged spectacle of horses performing 
in a group, such as that of the Spanish School of Vienna or 
the Cadre Noir of Saumur, which may appeal to a typical large 
modern audience by its beautiful and effective display. The 
same audience watching an isolated individual performance is 
more apt to admire the fact that the horse executes such move- 
ments at all than to appreciate the refinements with which he 
performs them. Asked to sit through half a dozen individual 
performances and judge between them, it would soon become 

On the European continent, of course, intelligent interest 
survives among the few people who still practice Dressage, 
as well as 'among those who, although they may no longer ride, 
were originally brought up on this form of riding. In Ger- 
many in particular, a keen interest in it persists. In the United 
States, addicted as we are to vogues, it is at the moment fash- 
ionable at cocktail parties and dinners to talk superficially 
about Dressage. The Spanish Riding School in Vienna, with 
its white horses and its columned riding hall, has become a 
favorite sight of American tourists, many of whom are im- 
pressed by the spectacle, although they may not even know 
how a horse should walk. This sort of interest has, of course, 
little to do with equitation. It may be added that the few 
good High School riders and horses in the United States do 
not alter the general picture. 


While the Spanish School of Vienna continues its excellent 
work of preserving classical 18th century High School more 
or less intact, and two or three Cavalry Schools still attempted, 
until recently, to advance the art, Dressage on the level of the 
Grand Prix of the Olympic Games is today the goal of very 
few people indeed. In the Games in Rome, for instance, France 
(of all countries!) did not have any entries in the Dressage 
competition, and only seventeen horses in all, representing ten 
nations, participated (the number of horses was limited to two 
from each country, and three countries had only one entry 
each). Germany in this respect is an exception, probably due 
to the fact that disciplining, training, dominating, and working 
pedantically are German characteristics. 

Although not so long ago most European High School riders 
were army officers, today their thinning ranks are often being 
filled by women. This is quite understandable, for this sport 
can be successfully practiced only by individuals who have 
wealth and leisure; and it is most likely today to be a woman 
who has both. Professionals, of course, are a special case. In 
Switzerland and Sweden, the two countries not involved in 
wars during this century or disturbed by revolutions, the major 
representatives of High School are still members of the army. 
Swedish officers have won more Olympic medals in the Grand 
Prix de Dressage and more of them gold ones than any other 
country; five gold medals against Germany's two, and France's, 
Switzerland's, and Russia's one each. Medals won in the Olym- 
pic Games, however, do not indicate the condition of amateur 
riding in a country. Neither do the perennially victorious 
d'Inzeo brothers prove that Italy is a riding country with much 
excellent jumping; nor does Filatoff's gold medal in Rome 
mean that all Russians are connoisseurs of High School. 

The high standards of the competition for a few, rather 
than the number of people involved in the game, are what 


have been responsible for bettering the performance of Dress- 
age. The exhibitions of High School riding in former days did 
not call for the perfection of detail that today's competition 
demands. It is very possible that James Fillis himself, with all 
his genius and artistry, might not win in modern Olympic 
contests, simple as the program might appear to him. It is also 
possible that he would be bored by the tedious mechanical 
details that modern competition has made imperative. 

The progress of manege riding in the 20th century is best 
illustrated by the changes in the program of Dressage in suc- 
cessive Olympic Games. 

In 1912 in Stockholm, the then so-called Individual Dressage 
did not include such movements as Passage, Piaffe, Pirouette, 
or a specified number of flying changes of leads in a given 
number of strides. It required only such things as a collected 
and extended trot and canter, backing, turns on the haunches, 
only four arbitrary flying changes of leads on a straight line, 
small circles, a figure eight at a canter, with and without change 
of leads, and so forth. Five small jumps and an obedience test 
were added to this program. The latter consisted in making 
the horse pass objects from which he had previously shied. 

Obviously the program was conceived for a cavalry officer 
who actually served in the ranks, and who consequently did 
not have as much time to devote to sport as the people who 
take part in international competitions today. In those days 
army teams consisting of officers who were taken out of regular 
duty and given a special job (and paid for it) to school for 
international competitions and ride in them, had not yet come 
into being. 

The Dressage program of the Olympic Games in Antwerp 
in 1920, Paris 1924, and Amsterdam in 1928 were quite similar 
to each other, differing only in detail. On the whole they were 
simple, although more difficult than the test of 1912. For ex- 


ample, they included two-tracks both at a trot and at a canter, 
and a specified number of flying changes of lead, every 4th, 
3rd, 2nd, and every stride. 

In 1932 in Los Angeles, the Passage and Piaffe were intro- 
duced for the first time. Unfortunately I lack information on 
when the Pirouette at a canter was added to the program; it 
was, however, a part of it in Berlin in 1936, when the test 
included all the High School movements mentioned and was 
considerably longer than the test in Stockholm: 17 minutes 
against 10. 

In 1948 in London the test was shorter again (13 minutes) 
and the Passage and Piaffe were omitted. This was due to the 
fact that there had not been sufficient time to prepare horses 
during the rather short interval since the end of the war. The 
programs in the next three Olympic Games, Helsinki in 1952, 
Stockholm in 1956, and Rome in 1960, although differing some- 
what from one another, were all at least of the standard of the 
Berlin test. 

Every Olympic Games' Dressage competition is followed by 
heated arguments about the correctness of the judging. These 
start on the spot and are often continued later on in the press 
and during special Dressage conferences. This does not neces- 
sarily mean that judges are unfair. It merely emphasizes the 
fact that High School, as any art, is a matter of taste in this 
case, national rather than personal taste. This taste, like na- 
tional temperament, is largely the product of economic and 
geographic conditions and historical factors; no two nations 
can see quite alike. Thus, for instance, the two major Dressage 
schools of today, the French and the German, are bound to 
appreciate different things, and therefore to strive for different 
results. The average German horse usually performs rather 
mechanically and stiffly, requiring strong aids, but it performs 
with great precision; these horses have been compared to 


wooden soldiers. On the other hand, the French horse of the 
same calibre performs very lightly and elegantly, although it 
may make technical mistakes here and there; it has frequently 
been likened to a ballerina. But besides differing in the funda- 
mental temperamental approach, the schools differ in many 
technical points, the source of many of which may again be 
traced to basic national characteristics. These technical points, 
as a matter of fact, naturally preclude a large and intelligently 
appreciative audience, for most of them are Greek to even 
good riders in other fields. Unfortunately one has to know a 
lot to be able to differentiate between good and bad High 

Another competition of the Olympic Games, the "Complete 
Test of Equitation/' popularly known as the "Three-Day 
Event," originated around the turn of the century as a test for 
officers' chargers. As such it was included in the first equestrian 
Olympic Games under the name of "Military." Since then it 
has been gradually changing hands from military to civilian, 
and today is simply a versatility test. 

The conditions of the "Complete Test of Equitation" 
changed with the years, and by 1936 the eighteen obstacles of 
the 1920 cross-country phase had already increased to thirty- 
five. This was their number in Rome. The obstacles today are 
also considerably more difficult than they were in 1912, while 
speed is at a premium in the steeplechase and the cross-country, 
and is rewarded by bonuses. 

There are two popular criticisms of the present form of this 
competition. The first is that the second-day phase is much 
too difficult (in Rome only six teams out of eighteen finished) 
and often results in the death of horses (three died in Rome). 
The second criticism is that the Dressage phase does not repre- 
sent the type of schooling that leads to better jumping or fast 
cross-country riding. This is underlined by the fact that of 


the twenty horses who had been most successful in Dressage 
in Rome, eleven were eliminated during the cross-country 
phase and six others were heavily penalized. 

This is already an old argument, and it is resumed after 
each Olympic Games. Once even, in the Games of 1920, the 
Dressage Test was abolished. The Italians, quite naturally, are 
always against it in its actual form; but many horsemen of 
other nations, also quite naturally, are firmly for preserving it 
in its present spirit of the old manege riding. 

Here it is interesting to note that today, in the century of 
specialization, some horsemen are against this competition in 
general, as a hodge-podge for horses who are jacks-of-all-trades. 
Some twenty-five years ago in Europe it was occasionally sai.d 
that the competing horses were mostly those that were not 
good enough at dressage to compete in the Grand Prix de 
Dressage, that could run, but did not possess the speed for 
regular racing, and that could jump, but not high enough to 
take part in international open-jumping competitions. All their 
critics, however, admit that these horses have to possess at least 
two extremely valuable qualities endurance and boldness. But 
admitting this, they say that the competition, in order to be 
brought up-to-date, should be stripped of the Dressage, Steeple- 
chase and Arena Jumping phases and should consist only of 
Endurance and Cross-country tests, thus becoming a specialty 
in its own right. Obviously such a point of view has little 
chance of winning, at least at present; I merely mention it here 
as one of various current ideas. 

Many signs point to the fact that this kind of competition 
(in various abridged forms) may soon become a rather well- 
liked sport with amateurs. However, due to the obvious diffi- 
culties of holding such events they will never be able to 
compete in popularity with the horse show. 

Today when, in all countries, the ambition of practically 


every young rider is not only to jump but eventually to com- 
pete in jumping competitions of one kind or another, consist- 
ent winners in international jumping exert (with the help of 
the press) considerable influence. They are understandably ad- 
mired and their practices studied, and many ordinary riders 
try naively to imitate them. I say ''naively," for it is not so 
much these practices by themselves that lead to success as that 
their often inimitable application by a rider of outstanding 
talent makes them work efficiently. I can think of several great 
riders during my lifetime who, although they rode quite differ- 
ently, in the end obtained the same results. Nor should the 
horses be forgotten. Every top international jumper was born 
with a physique particularly suitable for this form of athletics, 
with a talent for judging obstacles, with ambition to clear 
fences, and with unfailing boldness and willingness. A method 
suitable for schooling and riding such horses may not work at 
all with the average horse. Besides this, many horses, outstand- 
ing or ordinary, present individual problems. 

All jumping techniques fundamentally aim at the s^me 
thing. They all are based on the tenet that the horse must 
arrive at the take-off area in proper balance, at an advantageous 
speed, and with a sufficient reserve of energy. Then, in the 
cases of very high and complicated courses, it is often up to 
the rider to indicate to the horse the best distance from the 
obstacle at which to take off and to give him the extra impetus 
to clear it. 

The conceptions of proper balance, speed and reserve energy 
when nearing an obstacle remain the same, no matter what 
the school, although every one of these points can be, and often 
are, differently interpreted. In Forward Riding these points are 
not too difficult to learn. On the other hand, neither Caprilli, 
nor Chamberlin, as you may remember, subscribed to the plac- 
ing and the extra urging for which a rider needs special talent. 




But I wonder whether they would not change their minds if 
faced with modern international courses. They might be 
forced to, because the complexity of the latter is such that the 
horse's mind is not quick enough to cope with the new and 
extremely difficult situations which constantly arise. The riders, 
at least, can walk and memorize the course; they know what 
to expect and can decide ahead of time on the best way of 
negotiating it. The forcible riding over obstacles practiced by 
19th century riders, simply because they, knew no better, is 
almost inevitable again today in international shows because 
of the quite artificial mathematical problems in vogue at the 
moment. Artificial problems breed artificial riding. But then, 
of course, there are degrees in every method, and forcible rid- 
ing today is practiced on the basis of both more knowledge 
and more experience than obtained in former days. 

Today it is generally recognised in Europe that the riders 
and horses of the United States Equestrian (jumping) Team 
perform in a particularly homogeneous and pleasant style, 
which is at least reminiscent of Italian doctrines. To be sure, 
their performances are not based on the principle that the 
horse does the job, with the rider merely indicating what to 
do and helping only here and there. Our riders definitely domi- 
nate their horses, as do the other international riders. But here 
the matter of degree enters, and it is supported by refined 
techniques, which conceal much of the actual forcibleness. The 
fact that in most instances the controlling efforts of the mem- 
bers of our team are less evident than those of many other inter- 
national riders (and of our domestic open jumpers), speaks 
highly for their horses' schooling and for their technique as 
riders. This is particularly interesting in view of the fact that 
our team is largely under the influence of German theories, and 
the present three or four outstanding German winners ride 
quite. roughly. I saw the Germans only in Madison Square 
Garden in 1958 but, since my impressions have been confirmed 


by many Europeans who see them frequently, I feel justified in 
making this statement. 

There was no beauty in the performance of the Germans at 
the time that I saw them. Their horses often galloped between 
fences in a choppy, uneven fashion, pulling, with necks fre- 
quently arched and chins in; while the riders, in the struggle 
for an efficient take-off, exhibited positions ranging from rather 
good to completely grotesque. Hans Winkler, on his famous 
Halla, was the most attractive rider of the German team, par- 
ticularly at the beginning of a round, when Holla would come 
back softly and the rider had no trouble in placing her; in 
the latter part of the ro.und, when Halla would begin to pull, 
the original softness was often replaced by yanking and every- 
thing that goes with it. It was only during the jump itself that 
the Germans and their horses often looked well, because at 
that moment the riders changed very acrobatically from their 
nondescript positions to a forward seat, and gave sufficient free- 
dom to their horses* necks and heads. In justification one may 
add what our open jumpers have said all along that their 
business is not to demonstrate beautiful riding, but to win. 
This goal the German riders pursue very successfully, and they 
are great artists in aiming and shooting at obstacles. In this 
respect their exceptionally talented horses often assist them by 
correcting an occasional mistake of the rider in placing them 
and by jumping clean in spite of it. In view of the great talent 
of the German horses, the failure of the contempofary German 
dressage method to make them perform more smoothly between 
obstacles and without the need of very conspicuous aids is 

I should add that I have also seen Germans who performed 
in excellent style but, unfortunately, these were not top win- 
ners. All this illustrates the fact that beautiful riding and win- 
ning do not necessarily go together. 

It must be quite obvious from what I have said that I per- 


sonally admire an inconspicuous control of the horse; however, 
because it is undramatic, it leaves many people cold. And there 
is another factor: while many people today like to ride on the 
basis of a partnership with the horse, just as many love to domi- 
nate the animal and to feel that he is merely an animated 
instrument in their hands. This category of rider will always 
prefer a method based on pushing and pulling, which gives 
the sensation of dominion. When talented riders take this road 
the results may not be too bad, but when every Tom, Dick 
and Harry attempts it, the level of average riding goes down- 
hill, and upset and unhappy horses become a common sight. 
Fortunately there is no question that in following hounds, 
showing hunters, and competing in horsemanship classes, the 
dictator's attitude is not only unnecessary but even detrimental 
in most instances. Nothing is more beautiful than a perform- 
ance which looks easy and natural. There are many people, 
however, who will not agree with me; and those who are apt to 
be impressed by ribbons rather than by a fine performance 
will always be ready to accept any grotesque technique as long 
as they associate it with winning. 

As the military have gradually been replaced by civilians in 
international competitions, many ambitious amateurs have 
begun to fancy themselves or their children as potential repre- 
sentatives of their country. Even in their simple daily riding 
they have begun to imitate the practices of the international 
arena. This has led to some unsound notions. There is, for 
instance, the belief that an amateur in his hunting or jumping 
should try to follow the earlier principles of military riding 
with its basis of dressage. This belief can only originate from 
a quite unrealistic approach to the actual needs and the poten- 
tialities of the majority of today's horsemen. Unfortunately the 
old 19th century cavalry attitude is still with us among many 
teachers and promoters of riding. In this country two of the 


strongest factors creating such a point of view have been the 
influence of our own United States Equestrian Team and of 
England through some of our Pony Clubs. It seems, however, 
that England, which embraced this belief somewhat earlier 
than we did, has already had its share of disappointments, and 
perhaps is about ready to take a different road. For example, 
Lt. Col. C. R. G. Hope, the editor of the magazine Light Horse, 
has written in recent editorials (the italics are mine): 


"The majority of horsemen and women in these islands get 
their riding out hunting, following a doctrine if you can 
call it such that has changed little in the last hundred years, 
perhaps longer. Most of them are none the worse for that, and 
their horses appear far more comfortable than those on whom 
dressage is so assiduously practiced. . . . 

"Now let us consider the three-day event from the horse's 
point of view. First of all, the first two phases dressage and 
endurance are becoming more and more contradictory. The 
dressage test has become too long and too formal, with less 
and less relation to the main requirements of the event. It is 
more and more noticeable that horses who have done bad 
dressage tests go superlatively well across country. It is the ex- 
ception rather than the rule for a horse to be top at both." 


"Our instruction of youth, in the Pony Club and elsewhere, 
is based on a hangover from Weedon and Saugor. I do not 
decry them; I owe much to them myself; but while they ex- 
isted they were truly alive, doctrine was ever developing and 
marching slowly perhaps with the times. When they were 


closed down the doctrine was frozen, was practiced and taught 
unchanged by their alumni, who are instructors and examiners 
for the British Horse Society, and so passed on to the riders of 
today. The riders of tomorrow need something else. . . . 

"The Pony Club . . . have introduced a new universal saddle 
for Pony Club members. ... It is unfortunate that, with its 
comparatively straight front flap . . . it perpetuates that out- 
dated fallacy of the 'general purpose' seat, which is probably 
responsible for so much of the bad jumping style shown by 
young riders today . . !' 

It is very possible that in time the United States will arrive 
at the same conclusions. 


What Europe Thinks Today 

The majority of serious books on equitation published in 
Europe in the course of the current century have still been 
written by cavalry officers. 

It is to be expected that most of the books written by cavalry- 
men, or by well-educated civilian professionals brought up in 
the spirit of former military riding or of the yet older High 
School, would reflect the past rather than anticipate the future. 
There is, however, one big difference between the books of 
the early part of the century arid those written lately. 

At the time of Fillis it was sufficient to describe jumping in 
one short chapter; today as much as a third of a book may be 
devoted to jumping, or it may even be the main subject. 
Jumping itself is now usually described in Italian terms; some 
interpretation of the Forward Seat is included, and is more 
or less awkwardly combined with manege riding on the flat. 
The latter is still preserved in many books as "basic" training 
in itself an old-fashioned idea in our century of specializa- 
tion. Moreover, a substantial part of the European literature 
on riding during the second quarter of this century has been 
concerned with the elements of international competitions; 
books have been published on High School, Jumping, the 
Three-Day Event, and on the construction of obstacles and 
courses. During the first quarter of the century, military riding 


was still a common subject, and throughout the two periods 
popular books for civilian beginners (often written by other 
beginners) have come off the press in great numbers. This is 
a rather modern development, which started in the late 19th 
century, and to which were added, in the 20th, many books 
for juniors. A few scientific books on the horse's locomotion 
continued too to be printed. 

From the many books on Dressage that have appeared re- 
cently, I would like to single out one particularly DRESSAGE, 
by the late Colonel Andre Jousseaume, a French cavalry officer, 
winner or runner-up in several International Dressage compe- 
titions. This book was published in Paris, in 1950, by Per a 
Cheval, and will be issued in English by D. Van Nostrand Co. 

Jousseaume's book is the only modern work on High School 
I know of that presents the subject in a form anyone can under- 
stand. Starting with some thirty pages of debourrage (break- 
ing), the book divides Dressage proper into six periods, each 
of which is in turn divided into several lessons. The book con- 
tains no arguments and no abstract theories; it is a simple, 
matter-of-fact presentation of the routine of schooling. (In 
many books this subject is treated as black magic.) While jump- 
ing is not discussed in the course of these lessons, the clean-cut 
impression produced by an exclusive concentration on one type 
of schooling is marred in the short Conclusion of the book by 
Jousseaume's statement that it would be perfectly possible to 
school the horse over obstacles simultaneously with his dressage 
and that it is even to be recommended. 

There are some details in Jousseaume's method that make 
his book particularly sympathetic to me. For instance, he says 
that while the shoulder-in may be a helpful exercise, it should 
not be considered a "universal panacea/' and that it is not 
sufficient by itself to make a finished horse. Furthermore, he 


points out that there is a serious disadvantage in giving the 
horse a false position in early lessons. 

Horses that move crookedly are so common that I myself am 
indeed loath to sanction their being made crooked for any 
purpose whatsoever. The shoulder-in (as many other manege 
exercises), may once upon a time have been necessary in order 
to supple clumsily made horses for the execution of artificial 
movements. I fail to see any necessity for it in training today's 
thoroughbreds for such natural activities as field riding and 
jumping. De la Gueriniere, by the way, is usually credited with 
the invention of the shoulder-in, and there is no question but 
that he fully developed this exercise; Newcastle, however, some 
seventy years earlier, described a movement that was certainly 
its forerunner. 

Another point of interest in the book is Jousseaume's recom- 
mending, for application at least at the beginning of schooling, 
Baucher's principle of "legs without hands and hands without 
legs/' Jousseaume believes that this practice prevents a green 
horse from becoming confused, as he might be if simultane- 
ously driven forward with the legs and restrained by the hands. 
Many amateur trainers who have only glanced through a book 
or two on Dressage often teach a young horse to rein back by 
the combined use of legs and hands. 

Just recently I was helping a pupil to buy a green horse. 
The colt was shown well by his trainer, and was moving on 
the bit after only six weeks of schooling. But I was surprised 
at his choppy gaits, which were not indicated in his conforma- 
tion. During the second schooling lesson under his new owner 
the horse's gaits became normally good. This was the result 
simply of riding on loose reins (checking here and there to 
keep an even pace) while using the legs to maintain the im- 
pulsion "legs without hands." About three weeks later the 


colt moved just as well on light contact. His former owner 
had obviously insisted on this contact too soon. Since he is an 
experienced horseman he would unquestionably have remedied 
the situation eventually, but an ordinary rider working on this 
principle can spoil a horse's gaits, perhaps forever. 

Lightness of hands is particularly stressed in Jousseaume's 
book. And because of it, the author can talk about the light- 
ness of the legs. He even quotes General THotte's saying that 
a horse should be "obedient to the breath of the boot." 

It is interesting to recall this expression of the great 19th 
century French High School rider today, when the German 
Dressage riders seem to find that the total force of the legs is 
insufficient to drive the horse forward, and that the braced 
back must be brought into action in order that the seat may 
assist the legs in creating impulsion. Fundamentally, there is 
nothing new in the German Dressage seat; only some of its 
elaborations are modern. In Russian cavalry text books pub- 
lished during the 19th century a very similar seat was described. 
And I have little doubt that the braced back is helpful in 
achieving the German High School aim of having the horse's 
center of gravity pushed further to the rear than is required 
by the French school. 

But here in the United States, the idea of the "braced back" 
and of "pushing with the seat bones" has been acclaimed by 
some riders as a great, present-day discovery, and is being ap- 
plied to jumping. The strong use of the legs, which may be 
necessary when facing extremely difficult obstacles, is definitely 
harmful when applied in a routine manner to ordinary jump- 
ing. The majority of riders will have better success at the latter 
if they approach the fence normally in a galloping position, 
and sit for the last strides only if they feel that the horse is 
losing impulsion, and that they cannot apply their legs strongly 
enough when their seat is out of the saddle. There is no ques- 


tion but that the rider can use his legs more effectively from a 
sitting position; but it is easy to school a good horse to go 
boldly at most jumps almost on his own, most of the time; in 
my experience (working chiefly with thoroughbreds) the prob- 
lem is often just the opposite that is, how to control the 
horse's excess of natural impulse. 

Some Germans, however, carry the point of sitting with a 
braced back a bit further and imply that the seat bones* alone 
can, by their pressure, "influence" the muscles of the horse's 

". . . the pressure of the seat bones from back to front that 
is exerted when we push our pelvis forward also exerts a for- 
ward thrust upon the horse's back/' (HORSEMANSHIP, by Walde- 
mar Seunig, Doubleday fe Company, New York, 1956.) 

The many pages of extremely learned discussions in German 
books do not convince me that a rider can exert any real pres- 
sure through a saddle purely with the seat bones that is, at 
least as long as the laws of physics on this planet are in practical 

The same writer even goes so far as to stipulate the proper 
rider's conformation for this purpose and explains that a fleshy 
seat interferes with the forward action of the buttocks which 
"can act as an impelling force without the assistance of other 
parts of the seat only if the rider's weight acts upon the dorsal 
processes of the horse's spinal column (which are vertical in 
this region) at an angle that is at least 90 degrees." And adds 

"The principle that only an extended surface of contact 
affords stability, plus breathing and swinging in time with the 
mechanism of the horse, is satisfied by a thigh that is flat on 
its inner surface. ..." A rider who is not naturally blessed 
with this fortunate shape will be obliged "to spend years 
massaging the disturbing, round fleshy muscles to the rear. . . ." 


Understanding how to school a horse so that it would collect 
itself on comparatively soft hands, Jousseaume did not need 
extremely strong leg aids; he could consequently ride with stir- 
rups at hunting length and with the torso easily erect, with- 
out bracing his back, often even inclining slightly forward, as 
several of the illustrations in his book show. 

Many other books on Dressage have been published in 
France in the course of our century, and of various types too. 
Very different from Jousseaume's book is the much more theo- 
retical QUITATION ACADEMIQUE by General Decarpentry, pub- 
lished in 1949 by Editions Henri, Paris. It required many gen- 
erations of cultivated horsemen to permit General Decarpentry 
to write his sophisticated text in an elegent and beautifully 
logical manner. This work is not for a beginner, but it is a 
delight to the educated horseman. 

While most French books describe the schooling of a jumper 
in terms of more or less simplified dressage, jumping itself is 
sometimes treated in a very modern manner. As an example 
I shall quote from one of the several books written by Com- 
mandant Yves Benoist-Gironiere, who at one time competed 
in international jumping. The following paragraphs are from 
his book entitled PITRES AUX AMATEURS D* OBSTACLES, pub- 
lished in 1956, by les Editions de Neuilly: 

". . . There are two diametrically opposed theories on the 
subject of schooling [over obstacles]: one which would let 
the horse work by himself without direction from the rider; the 
other which, on the contrary, would leave all initiative to the 
rider, the horse having but to obey his command . . . believe 
me, let us keep to the first formula; leave the horse to correct 
himself. He will take more or less time, according to his tem- 
perament, but when the result is obtained it will be for good 
. . . our directive would be to let the horse learn his work by 


himself, the rider only guaranteeing the proper acceleration, 
maintaining impulsion if it becomes too feeble. . . . 

"Our first preoccupation as riders over jumps is to obtain 
from our horse the greatest possible extension of his neck and 
head. The absolute certainty that the neck and head in their 
function of 'balancer' are the foundation for a correct jump 
should not leave our mind for an instant. . . . 

"In the show ring we desire the strong balancing gestures, 
the long strides: we should have long reins. . . . 

"The snaffle should be your favorite bit, it corresponds en- 
tirely to our ideas, which are liberty for the balancing move- 
ments of the neck and head. . . . 

"Don't risk a jerk on the mouth. Your pride shouldn't make 
you ashamed to hold the mane . . . [advice to beginners]. 

"Do not simply assume the jumping position at the moment 
of negotiating the obstacle, but long before approaching it. It 
is a fundamental mistake to change position at the moment 
of the jump, because the equilibrium of the horse is upset 
by it . . ." 

The books on military riding require no comment, since 
they no longer have any bearing on actual equitation except 
in the Versatility Test. Among the French books on the me- 
chanics of the horse's locomotion, THE GAITS, THE HORSEMAN 
should be cited. It was originally published in France in 1918, 
and in an English translation in 1930 by the United States 
Cavalry School. It was written by Captain de Beauregard, 
under the pseudonym of L, de Sevy. The book was an impor- 
tant influence in my life, since from it I learned in detail the 
rdle the neck and head of the horse plays as balancer during 
the jump. I made wide use of the contents of this book in 
my own research on the horse's efforts in jumping. 

Another quite remarkable book on the subject, MECANIQUE 


QUESTRE, was written in 1950 by a French veterinarian, Andre, 
and published by the Imprimerie Artistique, Lavour, Tarn, 

You may remember that at the beginning of this book I said 
that I would use the term Dressage in the present popular 
interpretation of the word; this seemed necessary in order to 
make the book read more easily. Here, I think, before we leave 
French equestrian literature, is the appropriate place to discuss 
how the French use this by now American word, Dressage. It 
is not for the first time that it is used in the English-speaking 
world. The few 17th century English horsemen, like the Duke 
of Newcastle, who were influenced by continental riding, em- 
ployed the term in the form of "dressing horses." It later went 
out of use, and has slipped back into the English language 
again lately, when some horsemen of the English-speaking na- 
tions have once more come under the sway of the continent 
in matters of equitation. 

Accepting this term in a superficial manner, both the English 
and we have missed the fact that the French themselves, ad- 
vancing with the times, have come to distinguish between 
Dressage de Manege (ring schooling), which eventually may 
lead to High School (Dressage Academique), and Dressage Spor- 
tif (for sport) which is schooling for horses destined for cross- 
country riding or for jumping. The latter dressage is conceived 
under the Italian influence but, its method being still formu- 
lated, it more often than not preserves some practices from the 

One often hears that the French word dressage merely means 
schooling. This is correct. But do those people who prefer the 
French word dressage to the English word schooling use the 
first in referring to a cowboy's schooling of a cutting horse, or 
to schooling a gaited horse, or to the early-morning, last-minute 
schooling over the outside course on the show grounds? Why 


not be consistent? A Frenchman would use the word dressage 
in all the cases cited; as a matter of fact, dressage d* obstacles 
that is schooling over fences is a standard French expression. 
Those English-speaking people who insist that the French word 
dressage is equivalent to the English word schooling do not 
seem to practice \vhat they preach. 

But another factor has influenced our use of the word: in 
the days before Caprilli, when there was only one basic system 
of schooling (manege schooling), the word dressage signified 
this and nothing else. At that time, variations were limited to 
individual interpretations of what was fundamentally the same 
method. But today, with two systems existing side by side, the 
logical French, who like to express themselves very accurately, 
define which kind of dressage they mean by adding either the 
word manege or the word sportif to it. Today in France the 
word Dressage is used without a modifying adjective only in 
reference to manege Dressage, and this is why both competi- 
tions of the Olympic Games, the Dressage phase of the Three- 
Day-Event and the Grand Prix de Dressage are so termed. 
Both of these competitions represent fundamentally the same 
type of riding, but they are on two very different levels. What 
is it that relates them? Collection, of course. You will remem- 
ber that all educated riding in the past was based on collection 
(more or less of it), while the first thing Caprilli's revolution 
did was to abolish it. Today, in English, the word Dressage 
really refers to a specific type of schooling on the flat, based 
on collection. If one insists on using the same word Dressage 
to designate schooling of Caprilli's type, the adjective "sport- 
ing" should be added. Whether it is called this, or Forward 
Schooling or Natural Schooling,, or by some entirely new name, 
does not matter; but the user of the term should know what 
he is talking about and make it clear to his listeners. 

Elementary Dressage, of which we hear so much today 


that is the elementary level of ring dressage is considered by 
some people to be practical basic training for hunters and 
jumpers. This is an inheritance from the days of the military 
horse, and if one's hunter or jumper was expected to be as ver- 
satile as the old-fashioned military horse, some schooling of this 
type might be necessary. In an age of little time on the one 
hand and on the other of that narrow specialization which 
leads to high standards in competitions, the only really practi- 
cal training is that directed toward the special end one has in 
view for a horse. 

Even the elementary level of ring dressage is based on col- 
lection, on giving the horse a central balance. This means 
moving with central balance, neck high and chin in; it is not 
only of little use to the hunter or jumper, but it will delay if 
not actually impede his acquisition of a good forward balance 
with stretched neck and long flat strides the balance at which 
he will ultimately be required to function. Efficient elementary 
schooling for any type of horse must be based on the type of 
balance at which he will be expected to perform. 

Some people who watch me teach movements like the half- 
turn on the haunches say with surprise, "So you teach dress- 
age!" Actually, the superficial similarity between Dressage 
and Forward Schooling is even greater than that both schools, 
for instance, make their horses walk, trot and canter! The 
difference between Dressage and Forward Schooling is not so 
much in the movements the horse is required to execute as in 
the manner and balance in which he executes them. 

After French scholastic equestrian literature, German is un- 
questionably the second in importance. To the Teutonic mind 
it is probably superior to any, but many educated European 
horsemen of various nations will disagree with this. As national 
tastes in High School differ, so the literature of each country 
possesses its own flavor. A glance at one typical page of a book 


often suffices to indicate the nationality of the author. This is 
particularly evident in the case of German, French, and English 

I have read German books in translation only which means 
that I have not read many five, to be honest; and one of 
these was not properly German, although it belonged to the 
Germanic school. But because the three that I shall discuss are 
recommended in print by members of our international jump- 
ing team, I have good reason to believe that they are among 
the best. 

Suspecting that the cumbersomeness of the style in two of 
these books (HORSEMANSHIP by W. Seunig, and GIVE YOUR 
HORSE A CHANCE by A. L. d'Endrody) may be the fault of the 
translator, I am prepared to believe that the originals read 
more easily, and shall criticize only the substance of the text. 
In this respect I am fully aware that a perfect book has never 
been written, that every work contains errors, or is at least ob- 
scure in places my own books, unfortunately, illustrate this. 

In the first place, to me these German books lack the bril- 
liant logic of the French, which is so characteristic of the latter 
culture in general. I also miss in these books the attraction of 
a cultivated presentation of the subject, and of that Gallic 
lightness and elegance which make even profound passages 
pleasantly palatable. In comparison with the French books the 
German texts are often quite naive in their earnestness and 
are pretentiously ponderous. Since they attempt to be pedanti- 
cally exhaustive, they are apt to be overcrowded with details. 
Many of the latter, even of the simplest kind, are often de- 
scribed in a complicated scholastic manner which should be 
reserved only for those instances when there is no other way 
of presenting some abstruse point. Because of this the average 
reader soon ceases to see the woods for the trees. These turbid 
tomes illustrate the saying of Ruskin which Piero Santini so 


aptly quoted at the beginning o his own refreshingly 
lucid book, "It is far more difficult to be simple than to be 

Surprisingly the thinking behind these involved sentences 
is not consistently sound. An educated horseman will soon find 
many loopholes. While errors in nonchalantly written passages 
may be excusable, one naturally objects to them when they 
are presented in a serious and weighty manner. The unedu- 
cated horseman, however, is invariably impressed by the whole 
performance, and especially so because he is unable to make 
head or tail of it. But after a certain amount of struggle with 
the printed word he lays the book aside forever. I know, from 
talking to hunrdeds of American amateurs about these books, 
that instead of promoting the desire to read other books, they 
are apt to discourage them with equestrian literature for quite 
a long while. 

There is a type of American, however, who although 
definitely in the minority, loves to be complicated in anything 
he undertakes; it is he who bravely reads these books through. 
But many riders of this type, lacking the guidance of well- 
informed riding teachers, misinterpret much of the text and 
accordingly mess up their horses. Such books, as any technical 
book on riding, can of course be useful as a supplement to 
lessons, but cannot teach by themselves. The more complicated 
the book, the more this applies. 

The educated horseman's manner of reading is quite differ- 
ent. An accomplished High School rider, for instance, will 
read a new book on his subject, not in order to learn how to 
ride or how to school his horse, but to acquaint himself with 
the point of view of another horseman, which eventually may 
change his own approach toward a certain schooling procedure, 
or may substantiate his position on a debatable matter. To 
many readers of this calibre the German books mentioned are 


disappointing, because instead of containing new ideas they are 
on the whole quite unoriginal, and may be of interest only 
because of the meticulous description of details, some of which 
perhaps were never before so fully described. 

One would expect the horsemen of a country long dominated 
by a militaristic tradition to cling tenaciously to the formulae 
of the former cavalry. And, true enough, the old simplifica- 
tions of manege riding for use in the ranks are now adapted 
to jumping and civilian cross-country riding. While refusing 
to accept the Italian method, which is based on obtaining the 
horse's cooperation rather than on dominating him, the Ger- 
mans have, as everyone else, adopted the Forward Seat, but, 
taken out of a logical system, it is in this case artificially 
and without consistency added to another method. Many 
Germans, among them Waldemar Seunig, (HORSEMANSHIP, 
by Doubleday & Company, New York, 1956) still think that 
the Italian method of schooling cannot produce a "correctly 
moving cavalry or saddle horse," and that such horses cannot 
stay in service for a "long time/' Yet we all have seen hundreds 
of dependable and easily controllable hunters and jumpers still 
useful at the age of twenty years, made by methods closer to 
the Italian than to the old manege system. 

Seunig also fails to recognize the fact that the Forward Seat 
and the Dressage Seat (he calls the latter the Normal Seat) 
have little in common, because the balance of the first is 
primarily based in the stirrups and that of the latter in the 
saddle. Obviously not realizing this, he believes that the "for- 
ward seat is developed organically from the normal seat." He 
also believes that it is impossible to maintain the Forward Seat 
"by balance alone" which is precisely what beginners learning 
the Forward Seat are required to do by many American riding 
teachers. The Germans, who have apparently never discovered 
how easy this is when properly taught, make a strong point of 


the fixed knee, and teach that the rider should raise himself 
above the saddle not from the stirrups but "from the knees." 
Although I know a few excellent riders who ride with pinched 
knees, such a seat used by the majority would be quite disas- 
trous, both from the point of view of security and that of 

One error leads to another, and Seunig wrongly claims that 
the fixed knees become "a shock absorber." The shocks of 
locomotion cannot be effectively absorbed if the knees are 
fixed, and this is why: 

In order to absorb these shocks the rider's body must be 
springy. A straight, erect body has no springs in it. In order 
to be springy on the ground or in the saddle, a man must first 
of all acquire an angular position, with semi-relaxed joints 
forming three angles in the ankles, knees and hips. But 
sitting in a chair in an angular position without his feet 
touching the ground, a man has no springs in his body. In 
order to obtain springiness he must stand on his feet, raising 
himself slightly above the chair, body inclined forward in 
balance on his feet. It is a law of nature that we can deliver 
a spring only from our feet. When in the saddle the stirrups 
are the substitute for the ground; the impetus can come only 
from them. Pinching with the knees disconnects the torso from 
the feet and thus removes an essential element of the spring 
system. True enough, one can post at a trot without stirrups, 
from gripping knees, but this opening and closing of the 
angles of the knees should not be confused with spring. This 
is not a book on the techniques of riding, so I shall not go 
into a discussion of how a strong grip with the lower thighs, 
knees, and the upper calves may interfere with springiness, 
or when one is preferable to the other, and how and when 
compromises should be made. Here I merely wish to point 
out one of the numerous instances of error common to even 



the best German books. I have chosen the seat simply because 
It is the easiest to illustrate; when it comes to schooling a 
jumper or cross-country horse the errors, in my opinion, are 
many and large. 

Books written by eastern Europeans often bear the marks 


of German influence. For instance, a former Hungarian cavalry 
officer, Lt. Col. A. L. d'Endrody in his book, GIVE YOUR HORSE 
A CHANCE (published in English by J. A. Allen & Co., London, 
1959), also deals in a highly complicated manner with how 
the rider should use his seat as one of the aids in driving the 
horse forward and "influencing" the muscles of the horse's 
back. And he further takes the joy out of riding by including 
the thighs as other aids which, by pressing "on the muscles 
of the horses' withers," are able to "exert influence smoothly 
both on the back and the neck of the horse, and to affect 
directly even the shoulders." 

As to his description of the Forward Seat I am ready to 
confess that I find it completely baffling. The two following 
phrases, perhaps unfairly taken out of context, are nevertheless 
typical, not only of the description of the seat, but of much 
of the book: 

". . . the upper body, from the joints of the hip, exercises 
a pressure on the thighs which tends to keep the seat in its 
elevated position; 

"the effects of the elevating function of the thighs and the 
pressing-down force of the upper body counteract each other 
and produce an elastic tension in the seat, which is thereby 
endowed with the necessary action-readiness and stability." 

The photographs in the book illustrate the instability and 
awkwardness of the seat described at length by this author. 

This book, however, since its ultimate objectives are the 
Three-Day-Event and show jumping, gives very interesting 
information on the schooling of a horse for these competitions. 
A reader gifted with powers of concentration and with the 
ability to select will undoubtedly find much of practical value 
in the text on these subjects. 

These books, written by educated and serious horsemen, 
seem to exemplify the natural tendency of practitioners in any 


field to elaborate their knowledge and hedge it about with 
difficult language so that the layman will stand in proper awe 
of it, hence of them. Most riding teachers in this country or in 
England have not yet reached this stage of their art. 

RIDING LOGIC by W. Miiseler, the English translation of 
which was published by Methuen 8c Co., London, 1937, is 
another book of the same school which is, by contrast, quite 
readable, although the value of its content for today's riding 
is doubtful. 

Only one of the pictures of jumping in the book (of an 
Italian officer) depicts good form as we understand it today. 
The rest of the illustrations of supposedly good form (mostly 
of German officers) represent riders in insecure positions, too 
far out of the saddle, with legs swinging rearward, and with 
hands on the horses' necks. The cause of the bad form may be 
deduced from the text, which misinterprets the Forward Seat 
in the standard German manner. 

Miiseler, who recommends a dressage seat for moderate gaits, 
evidently even across country, and switching to a forward posi- 
tion only to catch up with the horse at a fast gallop or on 
the jump, describes a version of the latter based on shortened 
stirrups and pinched knees. This type of forward position 
almost inevitably throws the rider out of balance too far 
forward a defect that is tacitly admitted by Miiseler's 
stipulating that the rider at the same time rest his hands on 
the horse's neck. This, while perhaps necessary under certain 
circumstances, should not and need not be a part of the 
ideal finished position. 

Because of these many misconceptions of the Forward Seat 
by the Germanic school, I reproduce in this book three photo- 
graphs of Col. Harry D. Chamberlin, showing the Forward 
Seat on the flat. The caption for one of them (at the gallop) 
rea ds "Riding in stirrups" and, I may add, in a state of 


balance. They are from his book RIDING AND SCHOOLING, first 
published by the Derrydale Press in 1933. 

The text and illustrations that deal with dressage are the 
best in Miiseler's book. But in this respect it is interesting 
to note that Miiseler's fundamentals of the rider's position 
for this type of riding are practically identical with those of 
Colonel Bobinsky's Russian text of 1836 (formulated under 
the German influence of the period). Bobinsky wrote: 

"Lean back with the upper part of the torso and push the 
belt and the stomach forward (the braced back) ... sit resting 
on ... the two seat bones and the crotch. These points . . . 
form the base of the rider's position." 

As to the control of the horse through the "influence" of 
the back, Miiseler, after many pages of its description, arrives 
at the wise conclusion that it can exert control only in "con- 
junction with the legs." With the fact, long ago recognized, 
that the legs can act at their strongest only when the back 
is braced nobody will, of course, argue. 

Of the many other European works, that written by the 
Polish G. von Romaszkan in 1940 is worth noting. Readers 
of the present book may consider the substance of the follow- 
ing quotation from Romaszkan an old story, but I thought it 
worthwhile to give it as an example of up-to-date European 
thinking on the subject of two different balances of the 
horse in motion, each of them determining the specialization 
of the horse: 

"The natural system of equitation stems from the idea that 
a horse puts himself in equilibrium, properly speaking, and 
does it correctly of his own accord; he does it without any 
action of the rider or his aids directed particularly towards 
this end. The rider offers the horse, in accordance with the 
type of movement and the character of the terrain, increasingly 
difficult tasks, and by this means attains his aim: that the 


horse acquits himself properly of these tasks, that it is to say 
puts himself in balance. 

"The rider only uses his aids as much as is necessary to keep 
the horse at the gaits desired, at the particular speed and in 
the proper direction. By much riding over appropriately varied 
terrain, as well as by frequent changes of gaits, speed and 
direction (halts and backing) the rider xvill obtain that engage- 
ment of the hindquarters necessary to put the horse in 
equilibrium for outdoor sporting equitation. 

"A balance obtained by this method, however, may be 
insufficient for the shortened gaits of manege riding, and espe- 
cially for that of High School. The rider will not easily find 
natural means, outside the action of his aids, to force the 
horse into this kind of movement; although in liberty the 
animal will often execute similar ones of his own accord. . . . 
By following the system of natural equitation he [the rider] 
will never succeed in a higher domination of the horse, which 
trained by this method is always more individualistic and 
more independent. . . . 

"But, on the other hand, it is true that a horse schooled in 
this attitude, (the attitude of service) across country, on the 
basis of a kind of independent cooperation, is more skilful 
than the horse that has been trained only at collection in a 
manege. In this sense both horses the cross-country horse and 
school horse are in a way specialists, each in a different field 
of equestrian art." (From Gregor von Romaszkan's REITER 
UND PFERD IN GLEICHGEWICHT, published by Albert Muller 
Verlag, Ruschlikon-Zurich, Switzerland, 1940). 

Nothing of real importance or originality has been written 
lately by the English. They continue to write in their pleasing 
and often entertaining, informal manner, which makes for easy 
reading, but they offer the reader merely superficial and often 
confused technical information. A nation does not develop 


a logical approach to equestrian matters overnight. The void 
has been filled only by English reprints of good books from 
other countries. 

For centuries the Engish wisely refused to use Dressage 
methods to school their cross-country horses. Now, ironically, 
that the Italians have provided the world with an ideal system 
for schooling hunters, the English have taken up a method 
which they previously firmly resisted. It was the British post- 
war occupation of Germany which probably inspired this 
remarkable .about-face, by bringing many young Englishmen 
into personal contact with continental riding. Although I have 
just belittled German theories in comparison with French, 
Italian and some American, German riding is undoubtedly 
more educated than English, and has a much longer history 
of scholastic equestrian thinking. A thorough, serious, and 
analytical approach to the techniques of riding and schooling 
was a new experience for the English, and they were obviously 
duly impressed and intrigued. German victories in all three 
Olympic Games tests, as well as in international competitions 
in general, have appeared to substantiate the superiority of the 
German system. Inexperienced thinking on the subject came 
to the simple conclusion that what is good for an international 
horse and rider should be good for every other horse and 
rider. The same logic would indicate that the difference be- 
tween the schooling of a great jumper and of an ordinary 
hunter is merely a matter of degree. And so elementary dress- 
age became the by-word. 

At the same time the English developed a strong competitive 
spirit themselves, and with it the desire to win in international 
shows and in the Olympic Games. This, of course, greatly 
increased English interest in continental riding, and led to 
considerable imitation of the types of riding and schooling 
practiced across the Channel. And it just so happened that 


some outstandingly talented English riders and horses soon 
began to bring home international trophies. It has been in 
the fashion of the day to attribute their success not to their 
native talents but to their dressage. In this year's Olympic 
Games, however, the only English medalist was David Broom 
on Sunsalve (winner of the bronze medal in the individual 
jumping), and neither he nor his horse could, 1 am told, be 
suspected of any association with dressage. Similar experience 
in the future may change the English point of view. Perhaps 
significantly, the English magazine Light Horse is at present 
serializing the translation of Caprilli's writings. 

One outgrowth of international competitions and of the 
shrinking of the horseman's world has been the necessity for 
riders of different nations to understand each other's technical 
terms. This need has been excellently answered by Zdzislaw 
published by the Museum Press Ltd., London, 1955. 

While many European books, French, German, and English 
have sold here, some American ones have been reprinted in 
England. Among these are the books by Major Piero Santini 
and by Col. H. D. Chamberlin which I discussed in one 
of the previous chapters. Four of my own books have also 
been published in England and one (BE A BETTER HORSEMAN), 
in an abridged form in Spain. The trench have also printed 
some of my things the magazine Le Gheval, in a series of 
eight articles, published chapters of my book COMMON SENSE 
HORSEMANSHIP, while another magazine I'Eperon, in a series 
of three articles, printed my brochure, Do Collected Gaits 
Have Place in Schooling Hunters and Jumpers? I believe I am 
thus far the only American equestrian author whose technical 
works have been translated into French. 

I do not think it can be said that American riding literature 
has so far exerted any influence on Europe; as a matter of fact, 


we have not even hoped for such a thing. Not really aware of 
what has been accomplished in this country, we are quite 
apologetic about our equestrian achievements; particularly 
today, when the trend is to copy Europe. The very fact, 
however, that American authors are reprinted across the ocean 
represents a development of the second quarter of the current 


The Long Arm of the Cavalry 

Several new elements particularly characterize the modern 
equestrian scene. In the first place, what educated riding there 
is today is primarily for sport; in the past it had its place in 
the army or at court. This means that sporting riding is often 
being approached analytically as never before. Then, the in- 
crease in the number of people today able to participate in 
this game has had a democratizing effect upon it. Last but 
not least, the modern taste for competition has forced it to 
organize itself to a far greater degree than pleasure riding in 
the past. The forming and hunting of a pack of hounds, for 
instance, required organization, but this organization had 
almost nothing to do with actual riding. 

As an illustration of how the sport is becoming more and 
more organized everywhere, I here reproduce a photograph 
of the Congres du Cheval de Sport, held recently in Paris. Its 
purpose was further to systematize the classification of shows, 
riders, and horses. The approach to the latter I think may be 
of particular interest to my readers. 

The main purpose for the classification of horses was to 
prevent that abuse of young animals caused by too hasty 
schooling or by entering them too early in difficult jumping 
competitions. It was accordingly established that: 

1) A four-year-old horse is considered in a period of prepara- 


tion and pre-selection. The height of jumps for this category is 
limited to about 4', and time classes and jumping-off are both 
prohibited (only one class, at the end of the season, is to have 
a jump-off). 

2) A five-year-old horse is considered in a period of tran- 
sition and selection. This category will take part in jump-offs 
but not in speed competitions. The recommended limit to 
the height of obstacles is about 4'3". 

3) A six-year-old is still to be excluded from participation in 
the Championship of France and Puissance classes. A Grand 
Prix for horses of this age will probably be organized for the 
end of the season. 

Only after the age of six is the horsie free to enter all the 
more difficult competitions. 

Another interesting recommendation made was that of estab- 
lishing a National Stud Book for the riding horse, with a 
special section for the sporting horse. Stallions and mares would 
be selected according to their ability to transmit to their 
offspring the right qualities for a competitive horse. 

Although as early as the 16th century there were a few 
organized riding schools, and their number increased rapidly 
in the following centuries, it was only in the armies, and 
particularly those of the 19th century, that educated riding 
became truly organized and, it may be added, organized on 
such a scale and with such uniformity that it affected even 
civilian riding. This was natural at a time when there was a 
single prevalent concept of what educated riding was, and 
when this was consistently taught and practiced by a large, 
prestige-bearing cavalry. 

Today, this former role of the army has been taken over by 
civilian organizations, of varying degrees of influence and with 
differing aims, which naturally have a considerably harder 
time promoting their various ideals. One of their difficulties 



Courtesy of R. L. Thomas, editor 

Le Congres du Cheval de Sport held in Paris is the late winter of 1961 
is representative of today's efforts further to organize equestrian sport. 

The French minister of Agriculture, Monsieur Rochereau, speaking at 
this meeting of horsemen said, "I am not one of those who consider that 
the future of the horse is behind us ... the horse is the best antidote for 
the fatigues of modern man." (Photo INFORMATION HIPPIQUE, a magazine 
published in Paris.) 

in this country results from popular differences of opinion as 
to the best method of riding and schooling cross-country horses 
and jumpers. Those who promote Italian ideas have as hard 
a time as those who believe in what they call basic dressage 

The rivalry between conservatives and radicals is as keen 
in the riding field as in most other human activities almost 


as strong as in politics. At times it is hard to know who is 
winning, for on occasion the losing group may be the better 
organized, hence the more vocal. And I sometimes doubt that 
the complete dominance of a single point of view would 
produce a healthy situation. Again, as in politics, a two-party 
system is bound to stimulate both thought and effort. 

The majority of amateurs today who study equitation 
whether in Europe or in the United States are juniors. This 
group can be particularly easily influenced, one way or another, 
by its teachers and by its seniors in the sport. At the moment, 
the strongest educated conservative influence is exerted by 
former cavalry officers who are no longer active in their pro- 
fession, either because of their age, or of the mechanization 
of the cavalry, or of political changes in various European 
countries. Many of these men have become either professional 
riding teachers or volunteer teachers in various riding organi- 
zations, or moving spirits in the latter. Probably the direct 
influence of this group of men is strongest in Europe, but. 
it affects this country also through our imitation of European 

Because, up to the last, armies never accepted the Italian 
method for riding on the flat, the average cavalry officer of any 
country (except Italy) was still brought up basically on the 
principles of 1900, with the addition of the Forward Seat for 
jumping, and of some other modern details. While, unques- 
tionably, typical military sporting riding at the time of the 
Second World War (during which the major reduction of horse 
cavalry took place) was much more modern than at the turn 
of the century, many old practices were still retained. Although 
horsemen of the United States disagree on the merits of a 
method based on the latter, they often take sides without 
either knowledge of the technical points involved or considera- 
tion of the practical problems of life. This confusion is par- 


tially the result of a common reluctance on the part of Ameri- 
can horsemen to study the theory of equitation. No good riding 
can be taught or learned without knowing the logic behind the 
practical advice. 

This unpopularity of theoretical knowledge, as long as it 
continues, will weaken all our efforts towards better riding. 
Not by being faddists, but by making our horsemen think 
and evaluate methods, dispute the comparative merits of 
different systems, and thus thoughtfully arrive at constructive 
conclusions can we raise the standards of equitation. 

While the military period has been dying hard, a new type 
of amateur civilian sportsman, with his own aims and ideals, 
has arisen. The main pleasure of this modern horseman is 
jumping (primarily competitive) a form of sport which was 
merely taking shape at the time the cavalry schools were form- 
ing their latest tenets. The daily life of the new people in 
our sport who, as I mentioned before, have come from 
various backgrounds, are of all ages and varying means, 
possessing horses differing in type and quality is a far cry 
from that uniformity which was a distinguishing characteristic 
of former cavalries. These new people have needed a new 
method of riding and schooling horses, a simple and flexible 
method which would in the shortest possible time satisfy their 
comparatively simple ambitions (to hunt and compete in ama- 
teur shows). And in more and more cases they not only 
require a method that will do this for them, but one that will 
do it without abusing their mounts. Only those rather few 
horsemen who are in a position to combine ability with money 
and spare time for studying, and with continuous enthusiasm 
for riding, can hope to participate in international competi- 
tions; these can, and even should, approach riding in a com- 
plicated manner. But they are in such a minority that they 
do not need to be considered when developing a method that 


is practical enough to raise general standards of riding. The 
simple fact that raising standards in international competitions 
has little in common with raising them for general riding is 
rarely understood by the organizers of the sport on a national 
scale. This is hardly surprising, for only a wide and active 
experience of the riding scene at different levels can bring 
this point home. 

In this book I have frequently used the term "amateur" 
and "average/' but not in a disparaging sense. By amateur 
I do not imply a putterer, but simply a non-professional. And 
I employ the expression "average amateur" in a double sense. 
In one sense it refers to the rider with average aims, average 
time and means at his disposal, and in the other sense, of 
course, to his degree of ability in the saddle. As far as the 
latter is concerned it is from the ranks of these average riders, 
who can be counted in the thousands, that the hundreds 
of really good riders ultimately come. That the number of 
the latter may not grow greatly from year to year is due 
chiefly to the fact that a large percentage of them stop riding 
in their twenties. Despite this circumstance this group is, if 
anything, increasing rather than diminishing, which means 
that some riders who are average this year will have advanced 
considerably by next. The credit for this progress should go 
mainly to our riding teachers. To turn out hundreds of good 
riders yearly is, seriously speaking, a greater accomplishment 
than to give the finishing touches to a few exceptionally 
talented ones. Teachers should receive recognition of the same 
kind, too, for making horses which are pleasant to watch over 
4' courses out of hundreds of ordinarily good animals. Again, 
to turn a few brilliant horses into outstanding jumpers is less 
of an achievement than this. Although it is little wonder that 
the superficial riding enthusiast may fail to see all this, it is 
regrettable, for many of our equestrian policies, both local 


and national, would be sounder if they were based on an 
appreciation of these circumstances. 

While on the subject of organizations and teachers it may 
be worthwhile to point out that, in their natural desire to 
produce successful riders, they both may have a tendency to 
encourage a promising prospect to devote a disproportionate 
amount of time and energy to riding. Although some good 
amateurs are obviously marked for a riding career, the vast 
majority will find more rewarding occupations in other fields, 
and they should not be allowed to be carried away by youthful 
enthusiasm for the sport, and thus jeopardize the development 
of other interests which they will have more opportunity on 
the whole to pursue in life. 

Moreover, dreams of glory come easy, and some professional 
teachers as well as some groups of organized amateurs 
would like to feel that they are helping to produce potential 
international riders. Because international riding was, until 
just lately, specifically military, and is still under the military 
aegis, some of these groups have welcomed former cavalry 
officers as teachers and advisers. Then too, as a body, cavalry 
officers have had a better equestrian education than civilians. 
Among the civilian riding enthusiasts are those who have 
joined and often run such organizations (or teach in them), 
not necessarily because of their thorough knowledge of equita- 
tion. They may do it because of their organizing and adminis- 
trative abilities, because they have spare time, energy, money 
perhaps, and last but not least, because of a desire to play 
an important role in the community. These people need 
technical help and, with the present availability of former 
cavalry officers, the latter constitute an obvious choice. 

The majority of cavalry officers have, of course, received 
an orderly equestrian education, but they are not all necessarily 
gifted or imaginative horsemen; to many, the cavalry was 


just another kind of a military career and talent is rare any- 
where. The military world is apt to be a rigid one, and men 
who have been brought up in the army often find it harder 
to adapt themselves to changing conditions of life than do 
civilians. This is an occupational disability. Quite a few of the 
former cavalry officers teaching in this country have come here 
too recently to have been able to appraise more than the local 
segment of the riding situation with which they have come 
into direct contact. I know from my own case how long it took 
me before things fell in their proper perspective and I could 
see the forest for the trees. 

It is almost impossible for the former military man to begin 
otherwise than by trying to teach civilian pupils along the 
proper army lines, since he firmly believes that the theory 
in which he was indoctrinated is the best. It is only gradually 
that he begins to reflect that since his new pupils are riding 
for pleasure and not because a higher power requires it of 
them, that they need a faster-working and more flexible system 
than the army one. And he finally will come to the conclusion 
that theories usually hold good only in the circumstances for 
which they were evolved and can seldom be successfully applied 
in toto under quite different conditions. This process of as- 
similation sometimes is retarded by the fact that, since no 
uniform theory of educated modern riding obtains consistently 
in this country, it makes it all the easier for these teachers 
to acquire quite a local following, a situation that tends to 
confirm them in their belief in the superiority of their method. 

So, although the military century proper that is, the period 
when a military type of riding suited even civilians ended 
around the time of the First World War, the effects of this 
period are still with us just as the reactionary effects of the 
aristocratic era lingered on in the early military one. 


However, although there were obviously conservative ele- 
ments in every period, riding has continued on the whole to 
change with the pattern of the times, to have its forms dictated 
by the conditions of the life of which it is a part. It has not 
been and should not be static, and only by recognizing this 
can we make it give its most to man in any given period. 


The books and periodicals listed below bear the date of the editions 

actually used by me not necessarily the first ones. 

Adams (John), AN ANALYSIS OF HORSEMANSHIP, London, 1805. 

Anderson (Edward I.) and Collier (P.), RIDING AND DRIVING, 
Mr-niillan and Co., Ltd., London, 1905. 

Andre", Docteur-Veterinaire, M!CANIQUE QUESTRE, Imprimerie 
Artistique, Lavaur, 1950. 

don, c. 1800. 

Aure (Gartier) Comte d', TRAITE D'QUITATION, third edition, Paris, 

ARY, Museum Press, Ltd., London, 1955. 

Barroil (E.), L'ART QUESTRE, J. Rothschild, Paris, 1889. 

Baucher (Francois), METHOD D'QUITATION, 14th edition, Paris, 

Benoist-Gironiere (Yves) Commandant, PITRES AUX AMATEURS 
D'OBSTACLES, les Editions de Neuilly, St. Germain en Laye, 1956. 

St. Petersburg, 1889. 

Blundevill (Thomas), THE ART OF RIDING, London, 1609. 

St. Petersburg, 1836. 

FRANCAIS, Geneve, 1781. 

Bourchier (Sir John) Lord Berners, THE CHRONICLE OF FROISSART, 
London, 1901. 

Broue (Solomon) de la, LE CAVALERICE FRANCOIS, Paris, 1646. 



ITALY, George Allen and Unwin Ltd., London, Edition of 1955. 
Caprilli (Federico) Captain, articles in RIVISTA DI CAVALLERIA, 

Italy, 1901. 

Castellamonte (Amedeo) di, VENARIA REALE, Torino, 1674. 
Cavendish (William) Duke of Newcastle, A GENERAL SYSTEM OF 

HORSEMANSHIP, London, 1743. 
Chamberlin (Harry D.) Col., RIDING AND SCHOOLING HORSES, The 

Derrydale Press, New York, 1933. 


New York, 1937. 

translated by E. Schmit-Jensen, Rennes, 1947. 

EQUITATION ACADEMIQUE, Editions Henri, Paris, 1949. 
Dillon (Jane Marshall), SCHOOL FOR YOUNG RIDERS, D. Van 

Nostrand Co., New York, 1958. 
Dupaty de Clam (Mercier), LA SCIENCE ET L'ART DE L'QUITATION, 

Paris, 1776. 
Edward, second Duke of York, THE MASTER OF GAME (written 

c. 1410), Duffield & Co., New York, 1909. 
Eisenberg, Baron de, DESCRIPTION DU MANEGE MODERNE, London, 


Encyclopaedia Britannica, 14th edition, article on CAVALRY. 
Eridrody (A. L.) d', Lt. Col., GIVE YOUR HORSE A CHANCE, J. A. 

Allen & Co., London, 1959. 
L'fiperon, a periodical, Paris, 1961. 

Fiaschi (Cesare), TRATTATO DELL IMBRIGLIARE, Venice, 1613. 

Flammarion, Paris, 1890. 

BREAKING AND RIDING, second edition, Hurst 8c Blackett, Ltd., 

London, 1911. 

JOURNAL DE DRESSAGE, Ernest Flammarion, Paris, 1903> 


from the Russian by J. Fillis) Ernest Flammarion, Paris, 1914. 
Fleitmann (Lida L.), COMMENTS ON HACKS AND HUNTERS, Charles 

Scribner's Sons, New York, 1921. 
Fouquet (Samuel) Sieur de Beaurepere, TRArrri DES EMBOUCHEURES, 

Paris, 1663. 


DE GUERRE, Paris, 1862. 

Goubaux (Armand) and Barrier (Gustave), THE EXTERIOR OF THE 
HORSE, J. B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, 1892. 

Grisone (Federico), GLI ORDINI DI CAVALCARE, in German transla- 

Guriniere, de la, COLE DE CAVALERIE, Paris, 1733. 
Hayes (M. Horace), AMONG HORSES IN RUSSIA, London, 1900. 
Hislop (John), STEEPLECHASING, E. P. Dutton 8c Co., New York, n.d. 
Hope (C. E. G.) Lt. Col., editorials in the Light Horse, a periodical, 

London, 1961. 

Hope (William) Sir, THE COMPLETE HORSEMAN, London, 1717. 
/' Information Hippique, a periodical, Paris, 1961. 
Jousseaume (Andr), Colonel, DRESSAGE, Fer a Cheval, Paris, 1950. 
Lawrence (John), THE HORSE, Philadelphia, 1830. 
Lohneisen (Georg Engelhard) von, HOF-KRIEGS-UND REIT-SCHUL, 

Niirnberg, 1929. 
Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle, THE LIFE OF WILLIAM CAVENDISH, 

DUKE OF NEWCASTLE, George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., London, 

Masefield (John), REYNARD THE Fox, William Heinemann Ltd., 

London, 1932. 
McTaggart (M. F.) Lieut. Col., MOUNT AND MAN, Country Life 

Ltd., London, 1925. 
Melfort (Drummond) Comte de, TRAIT SUR LA CAVALERIE, Paris, 


Mennessier de la Lance (General), ESSAI DE BIBLIOGRAPHIE HIP- 
PIQUE, Lucien Dorbon, Paris, 191549174921. 
Miiseler (W.), RIDING LOGIC, Methuen & Co., London, 1937. 
Muybridge (Eadweard), ANIMALS IN MOTION, Chapman & Hall, 

Ltd., London, 1925. 
Orgeix, The Chevalier d', HORSE IN THE BLOOD, Nicholas Kaye, 

London, 1951. 
Pembroke (Henry Herbert) Earl of, METHOD OF BREAKING HORSES, 


ARMY, London, 1762. 
Picard (L.) Captain, ORIGINES DE L'COLE DE CAVALERIE, Saumur, 



Pluvinel (Antoine) de, MANEIGE ROYAL, Paris, 1623. 

Podhajsky (A.) Colonel, THE SPANISH RIDING ACADEMY, Briider 

Rosenbaum, Vienna, 1947. 
Rene, King of Anjou, On Tournaments, written c. 1465. LE LIVRE 

DES TOURNOIS DU Roi REN, Verve, Paris, 1946. 

THOROUGHBRED HORSE, University Press, Cambridge, 1905. 

Albert Muller Verlag, Zurich, 1940. 
Ruse (Lavrent), or Rusio (Lorenzo), LA MARESCHALERIE, first printed 

c. 1486, last edition, Paris, 1610. 
Russian Cavalry Messenger, (Vestnic Russkoy Konnitzi) a periodical, 

St. Petersburg, 1906, 1907, 1908. 
Santini (Piero) Captain, RIDING REFLECTIONS, The Derrydale Press, 

New York, 1932. 

THE FORWARD IMPULSE, Huntington Press, New York, 1936. 
Schmit-Jensen (E.), EQUESTRIAN OLYMPIC GAMES, Welbecson Press, 

Ltd., London, 1948. 
Seunig (Waldemar), HORSEMANSHIP, Doubleday & Company, New* 

York, 1956. 
Sevy (L.) de, THE GAITS, THE HORSEMAN, The Cavalry School, 

Fort Rilley, Kansas, 1930. 

Sind (J. B.) Baron de, L'ART DU MANEGE, Cologne, 1762. 
Souza (Barettp) de, PRINCIPLES OF EQUITATION, E. P. Button, New 

York, 1922. 
Swire (John), ANGLO-FRENCH HORSEMANSHIP, Vinton 8c Co., London, 


mans, Green and Co., London, 1952. 
Wells (H. G.), THE OUTLINE OF HISTORY, The Macmillan Co., 

New York, 1921. 

White-Melville (G. J.), RIDING RECOLLECTIONS, London, 1878. 
Williams (C. H. C.), WILLIAMS' NEW SYSTEM, Claremont, N. H., 

Xenophon, ON HORSEMANSHIP, written in the IVth century B.C., 

English Edit., 1802. 

ANABASIS, IVth century B.C. 


Adams, John, 93, 98-100, 191, 223 

"All-around horse," 61 

Albert!, Leone Battista, 20 

Amateur, 304 

Anatomy of the horse, 102 

Anderson, Edward L., 240 

Andre", 284 

Anshutz, Ottomar, 137, 139, 147 

"Artificial" vs. "natural," 122, 123, 

124, 184 

Astley, Philip, 103-104, 106 
Aure, Count d', 96-97, 109-110, 113- 

115, 120-122, 124, 125, 180 
"Average rider," 304 

Balance of the horse, 101, 147, 148, 

149, 150, 167, 168, 170, 172, 

173, 175, 184, 185, 190, 249, 286, 

294, 295 

"Balanced seat," 241 
Ballet (horse), 68, 70, 71 
Ballotade, 29, 56, 65, 84, 99 
Baranowski, Zdzislaw, 297 
Baroque era, 30, 31, 65-67, 101 
Baucher, Francois, 22, 109, 111, 112, 

113, 115-120, 125, 130, 167, 173 
Benoist-Gironiere, Commandant 

Yves, 282, 283 
Bits (Renaissance), 56 
Blundeville, Thomas, 57, 75, 76 
Bobinsky, Colonel Ivan, 138, 140, 


Bohan, Baron de, 101, 191 
Boisdeffre, Chevalier de, 96 
Boots and Saddles Riding School, 

226, 227, 237, 256 
Braced back, 280, 281, 294 
Broue, Solomon de la, 38, 39, 41, 

79, 80, 90, 91 
Bussigny, de, 240 

Canter (gallop) departure, 122 
Canter on three legs, 160 
Canter rearward, 162 
Caprilli, Captain Federico, 10, 11, 

100, 101, 121, 153, 155, 170, 

178, 179-191, 197, 214, 251, 253, 

259, 260, 270, 297 
Capriole, 10, 29, 56, 65, 84, 99, 103 
Carrousel, 63, 67-70 
Chamberlin, General H., 122, 242, 

246-255, 270, 293, 294, 297 
Circles, 250-251 
Circus, 22, 26, 103, 106, 159, 160, 

161, 163-164 

Classification of showjumpers (mod- 
ern), 299, 300 
Collected gaits (see also rassembler), 

21, 120, 121, 123, 125, 148, 

166, 171, 175, 250, 251, 252, 

285, 286 

Combined Training Test, 61 
Conservatism in riding, 95, 105, 

106, 110, 132, 228, 232, 277, 

280, 289, 302, 303, 304 
Cossacks, 132, 175, 176, 191 
Courbette, 44, 57, 82, 98, 163, 169 
Crcy and Poitiers (battles of), 58 
Crescenzi, Petrus, 20 
Cross-country riding, 10, 184, 185, 

188, 189, 191-195, 244, 245, 


Croupade, 29, 84, 103, 161 
Cruelty to horses, 74-77, 105, 239 

Decarpentry, General, 282 
DGWS, 226, 227, 228 
Dillon, Jane Marshall, 257-258 
Dismounted work (in hand), 118, 
170, 171, 252 



Dressage, 9, 10, 14, 71, 79, 99, 104- 
105, 165, 170, 215, 232, 233, 
240, 255, 263-268, 275, 278-280, 
281, 282, 284, 285, 286, 296 

Dupaty de Clam, Mercier, 95, 96 

Edward, second duke of York, 20 
Eisenberg, Baron d', 36 
Endrody, Lt. Col. A. L. d', 287 

England, 22, 33, 47, 71, 72, 88-90, 

103, 105, 121, 122, 140-142, 

143, 151, 153, 154, 181-182, 

215, 295-297 
Equestrian vocabulary, 72 

False canter, 251 

Fillis, James, 8, 22, 114, 119, 130, 

158-178, 180, 182, 266 
Fleitman, Lida L., 215, 224 
Forward Riding, 10, 183, 184-195, 

233, 270-271 
Forward Schooling, 102, 114, 131, 

285, 286 
Forward Seat, 99-101, 177, 189-190, 

191, 231, 235, 241, 242, 243, 

244, 249, 256-257, 277, 289, 291- 

France, 39, 46, 96, 97, 110-111, 237, 

265, 267-268 

Frederic the Great, 86, 92-93 
Froissart, 61-63 

Gallop to the rear, 162 

Gerhardt, Captain, G. A., 149, 150- 

Germany, 121-122, 151-152, 153, 155, 

156, 265, 267-268, 272-273, 280- 

281, 286-294, 296 
Grisone, Federico, 9, 21, 25-26, 38- 

39, 40, 74, 77-79 
Guriniere, Francois de la, 36, 38, 

46-47, 67-68, 80-91, 93, 97, 101, 

126, 138 

Hastings, Mr., 33 

Hayes, Captain Horace, 161, 164 

High School, 16, 21, 22, 39, 56, 57, 
58, 61, 63, 77, 85, 86, 88, 98, 
103, 105, 106, 118, 123, 156, 
159, 161, 163-165, 167, 168, 170, 
174, 202, 206, 263, 265-266, 280, 

Hope, Lt. Col. C. R. G., 275-276 
,Hope, Sir William, 32, 37, 39-41, 50 
v Horse shows, 6-8, 63, 217-219, 229, 

Humane approach to horses, 204- 

Hunting and hunters, 5, 20-21, 30- 
31, 88-90, 99-100, 154, 219, 235 

Innovations in dressage, 116 
International competitions, 259-274, 

Italy, 39-41, 65, 197, 265 

Jousseaume, Colonel Andre, 278-280 

Jousting, 61-63 

Judging shows, 219, 267-268 

Jumping, 3, 5-9, 10, 13, 22, 90, 91, 
99, 179-181, 185, 187-188, 192, 
194, 202, 204, 206, 218-219, 225, 
235, 240, 252, 260-262, 270-274, 
277, 282-283 

Junior riding, 203, 217-222, 302 

Kikkulis, 14 

Knights in armor, 52-58 
Kournakoff, Capt. Sergei, 226, 256 
Krassnoff, General P., 191-195, 240, 

L'Hotte, General A., 113, 152-153, 


Lippizaner, 174 
Littauer, V. S., 4, 11, 22, 88, 172, 

217, 227, 247, 249, 251, 252- 

253, 255-256, 283, 297 
Locomotion of the horse, 101, 103, 

144-150, 175, 256-257 
Lohneisen, E. von, 68-70 



Manege horses and manege riding, 

92, 95, 98-99, 142, 175 
Manuscripts, 26-27 
Masefield, John, 223 
Melfort, Count Drummond de, 94- 

95, 99 
Mennessier de La Lance, 46, 114* 

115, 120 
Me*zair, 82 

Middle Ages, 19-21, 59, 52-55, 61 
Military riding, 22, 52-55, 57-58, 92- 

98, 103, 105, 117, 120, 136-140, 

162-163, 168, 170-172, 191-196, 

289, 302, 305-306 
Mongolia, 178 
Museler, Major W., 293-294 
Muybridge, Eadweard, 103, 144-145, 

McTaggart, Lt. Col. M. F., 224, 241 

Napoleonic wars, 22, 96-97, 126-127 
"Natural" vs. "artificial," 122-124, 

175, 184 
Natural movements, 95, 101, 121, 

122-124, 247, 251, 253 
Neapolitan school, 39-41 
Newcastle, Duke of, 34, 38, 47-51, 

60, 101, 117 
"Noble" (epithet), 50-51 

Obstacles, 91, 260-261 
Olympic Games, 259-269, 296-297 
Ordinary gaits, 168, 247 
Organization of Equestrian Sport, 

299-301, 305-306 
Orgeix, Chevalier d f , 260 

Paderno, Cesare, 188 

Parade horses, 58, 95, 98 

Passage, 26, 81, 86, 98, 123, 163, 

Pembroke, Henry, Earl of, 93-94, 99, 


Pesade, 82, 86, 103, 163, 169 
Phillips, Edward, 67 

Photography, 103, 137, 139, 144-145, 

147, 206-213 

Physical education, 224, 226-228 
Piaffer, 82, 85, 163, 266 
Picard, Captain L., 118, 126 
Pillars, 42, 45, 80, 94, 174 
Pinerolo (Italian Cavalry school), 

182, 191, 195, 196, 240 
Pirouette, 86, 163, 266 
Pluvinel, Antoine de, 34, 38, 39, 41- 

44, 80, 117 

Podhajsky, Colonel A., 46, 57 
Pony Club, 219, 275-276 
Posting trot, 124-125 
Professionals, 262, 265 

Quintain, 63, 64 

Ramener, 149, 166, 168, 254-255 
Rassembler, (see also collection), 

149, 166 
Renaissance, 28, 39, 64-65, 71, 105, 


Rene", King of Anjou, 21 
Ridgeway, W., 71-72, 88 
Riding teachers in the U.S.A., 4, 11, 

217-219, 225-229, 302, 305 
Rodzianko, Col. Paul, 240 
Romaszkan, Gregor von, 294-295 
Rome (ancient), 19 
Rusio, Lorenzo, 20 
Russia, 136-140, 157, 162, 163, 165, 

170-173, 195496, 265 
Saint-Phalle, Captain, 152 
Santini, Major Piero, 183, 242-246, 

287-288, 297 
Saumur Cavalry School, 71, 113, 

114, 155, 247, 264 
Scientific approach to equitation, 

105, 131, 143-151, 204-206, 256- 

Seat-bones (control by the), 281, 

292, 294 

Seunig, Waldemar, 281, 287*291 
SeVy, L. de, 283 



Shoulder-in, 85, 94, 95, 255, 278-279 

Side-saddle, 224 

Sind, Baron de, 97-98 

Sloan, Tod, 191 

Social background, 3-4, 12, 28, 30, 

32-37, 64-71, 92, 109-111, 126- 

130, 132-136, 140-141, 196-197, 

Souza, Count Baretto de, 235-237, 

Spanish Riding School, 68, 71, 155- 

156, 161, 174, 264-265 
Specialization of horse's work, 60- 

61, 98 

Steeplechase, 6 
Step-and-jump, 84 
Sweden, 265 

Terre-a-Terre 82 

Theory of riding, 230-232, 234-235, 


Thiroux, Charles, 44 
Three-Day Event, 8-9, 202, 268-269, 

285, 292 

Tilt, 61 

Tor di Quinto (Italian cavalry 

school), 182, 195, 203, 247 
Tournaments, 61 
Tsourikoff, Lt. General, 172-173 

United States, 214-233, 235-258 
United States Army Horse Show 

Team, 246 
United States Cavalry School, 237, 

255, 283 
United States Equestrian Team,. 

261, 272, 275, 287 

Victorianism, 236 
Volte, 82, 86 

Williams, "Professor," 239 
Winkler, Hans, 273 
Women (girls) in riding, 221-224 
Working hunter, 221 

Xenophon, 14-19 

(Continued from front flap) 

In tracing the history of these two 
types of riding, Capt. Littauer explains 
not only this, but many other aspects of 
the presen f *~^^^^>r_ scene. 

The book is divided into several parts 
in order tc vhow how the /->*-'- - ir.d 
ways of life >n .nc periods affected 

the develoj , ji Aiding. The manners 
and custorru v * . - ,.cL, the Mil- 

itary and tLi. ^vmv-i^L ~'"-' r ds which 
the world has. u^c during the J - 
velopment oT educated iiding, have iiaa 
definite and provable influences on riding. 
It is important for the horseman of today 
to understand these things, as it will en- 
able him to appreciate and evaluate the 
methods of riding, training and school- 
ing now being taught in Europe and 

One of the notable things about this 
book is the fact that it is easy to read 
and intensely interesting, from start to 
finish. The reader will enjoy the author's 
views of riding in Italy, France, Ger- 
many, Russia, England and America, and 
learn what each country has contributed 
to the development of riding. In short, 
this book provides a valuable education 
in equestrian thought and practice which 
no other book can provide. 

Embellished with 74 fascinating illus- 
trations, this book will make a superb 
gift for any horseman, young or old, and 
belongs in the library of everyone with 
any pretensions to equestrian knowledge. 
In fact, it is the cornerstone for any col- 
lection of "horse'* books, large or small.